We all live our lives expecting a mix of setbacks and victories. But elite athletes live their lives to participate in a specific event on a specific date: the Games. So what does it feel like to have that event postponed for an entire year? We asked several Shaklee Pure Performance Team athletes to share their thoughts on the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games. Here are their inspiring perspectives.
Caryn Davies (Rowing: ’04 silver medal, ’08 gold medal, ’12 gold medal)
My first reaction was relief. I even did a little jig on the way to the kitchen for breakfast. Why? When we’re met with news as unfathomable as the entire Summer Games being postponed for the first time in history, sometimes our brain can’t quite grasp the big picture, so it focuses on the insignificant details. I was simply relieved that I wouldn’t have to do the hard workout scheduled for the next day. But more to the point, I wasn’t ready to consider the larger ramifications of postponement. At 38 years old, I’m already pushing my body’s limits for performance and recovery. I’m not sure it can handle another year of training. Plus, I was planning to get married and start a family later this year. Another year means I’ll be in my 40s by the time I have kids—if I’m able to have them at all. I confess that I’m not certain I’ll continue training through to Tokyo 2021. For now, I’m taking things one day at a time. And I’m choosing to see this extra year as a gift: the gift of a do-over. Having already completed most of the pre-Tokyo Games preparations, I can assess what worked and what didn’t and adjust my approach accordingly.
Most of all, I want to enjoy it more. After all, this time it’s almost certainly my last Games.
Lexi Lagan (Shooting: ’20)
In a year with incredible highs and a few lows, I was surprised I didn’t feel like the postponement of the Games was a low. I expected the Games to be impacted in some way; I am so grateful that they were not simply canceled. I am also blessed to be in a group of athletes that have already been named to the US Team. I will now be able to turn my focus to preparing for the Games for an extra year, while some athletes will still have to wait another year to focus on just making the team. The mindset and training style is very different for these two circumstances, and it’s very stressful to be in the latter group. During this time of uncertainty, I’ve been working with my coach to focus my training on my mental game and catching up on some self-care that was neglected during the normal training season.
Chloé Dygert (Cycling: ’16 silver medal, ’20)
The postponement of the Games is a positive. The unfortunate pandemic we are faced with across the world is a priority. Postponing the games gives everyone the opportunity to focus on current affairs, and looking to 2021 gives us all hope to come together in a celebration of health once again. As an athlete, I am confident and happy this decision came sooner rather than later. It allows me to focus and adjust accordingly. I am very excited for 2021.
Amro Elgeziry (Modern Pentathlon: ’08, ’12, ’16, ’20)
Learning that the Games had been postponed was definitely a shock. I was at my peak of training and geared up to compete, so coming down from that mindset was tough. Once I got over the initial shock, I began to look for the positives in this situation. There are things you can always improve on as an athlete. I’m viewing the postponement of the Games as an opportunity to improve. I now have another year to prepare and get better.
Charles Fernandez (Modern Pentathlon: ’16, ’20)
Through difficulty comes the opportunity to learn and grow. For myself, the hardest part about being a Games athlete always comes before the season when I consider the sacrifices athletes must make. Putting your family, relationships, personal interests, and personal agenda on hold for 9–10 months is no easy feat but necessary to be focused 100% on your performance. Once I enter into the mindset of performance and execution, nothing stops me until my job is done. I was already in the mindset of performance and execution when I found out about the postponement. At first, it was difficult to comprehend that everything I had focused on and everything I had put on hold in my personal life would be put on hold for another whole year. But I eventually concluded that it is more important to take care of our own health and the health of the people around us than to put at risk something so temporary as the Games. We’re not immune to what happens around us; sometimes it is important to acknowledge that slowing down, resting, and taking time for myself and my loved ones is the best thing that can happen to me in this fast-paced and demanding lifestyle required when training for the Games. Having a mindset to search for positivity in the midst of difficulty makes the difference in times like these.
Valerie Arioto (Softball: ’20)
There has been so much loss and devastation in the world but also so much support in trying times, amongst our team and the softball community and widespread on social media. We want to be together, but we understand the importance of social distancing and staying home; we want to do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. We have “Tuesday TED Talks” by team members via video chat to stay connected and to grow our team bond. We started our “Stand Beside Her” Tour for a month before having to return home and now are seeing the benefits of that time together. We feel more prepared and know what to expect for our pre-Games Tour. This is the first Games for most of us, so these experiences will help us prepare. Finding the positive in all of this gives us hope!
Kelley Hurley (Fencing: ’08, ’12 bronze medal, ’16, ’20)
The postponement was definitely a huge disappointment. Even though we knew it was the right decision and felt it was inevitable, it was a seriously tough pill to swallow. Suddenly, this whole crisis became very real to us. In 2019 I had told myself, “OK one more year, I can do this, you’ve got this.” Now I am having to tell myself this once again. I have had to put my life on hold yet again, and now, without any competitions on the horizon and most gyms being closed and with a slight apocalyptic feeling in the air, it’s difficult to know exactly what I should be doing. What am I training for again? It has felt a bit like limbo. Fortunately, we have some really great support in our teammates and National coach. And I know we will get through this, and the world will get through this, and we will come back even stronger!
No one needs to tell these athletes there are more important things than the Games—they know that. But we also know that the spirit of the Games is what compels us to strive through adversity, pull together for a common good, and celebrate the extraordinary achievements that keep us working, hoping, dreaming, and living the life we seek.