After weeks of speculation and mounting pressure from the international sporting community, the International Olympic Committee officially announced March 23 the 2020 Olympic Games would be postponed until 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was slated to run this July in Tokyo, Japan.
Airdrie Aces throws coach Rachel Andres – who competes internationally in discus, shot put, hammer throw and javelin for Team Canada – supports the postponement.
“It’s better for the safety of, honestly, the country as a whole,” said Andres, 32. “A lot of athletes have had their training interrupted and trying to catch up would just put risk to the athletes and, most likely, the general public, as well.
“Right now, we’re just trying to keep people safe and slow the spread so that we’re not overwhelming our medical system. It’s really something that’s bigger than sports.”
Given that athletes are restricted to their homes at the moment, Andres added going ahead with the Games would not have made sense as most competitors would not be at their optimal performances.
Currently ranked 36th in the world in women’s discus, Andres was on track to qualify for the Olympic Games this summer. She said the top 32 throwers qualify, and she was aiming to improve her ranking by competing in various international competitions and Olympic qualifiers.
“As it stands now, I’m easily within shooting distance,” she said. “With the Olympics being moved, it’s going to change some things with regards to qualifying people – if we don’t have any competitions this year, my world ranking is going to reset and I’ll have to restart from scratch, trying to get onto the world-ranking list again.”
She was set to travel to Australia to compete at the Queensland Track Classic in March, but the Level B qualifier was cancelled when the situation became a pandemic.
“A lot of the track meets I was going to use to improve my world ranking have been cancelled, so that would have put me at a disadvantage, as it is,” she said.
At the moment, Andres said, her training is limited to doing technique drills and strength workouts at her house in Olds. She said she has ordered a new set of workout equipment from Amazon, so she can train with heavier weights at home.
“I’m normally holding a shoe in one hand and spinning in circles in my basement – while keeping my son out of the way,” she said with a laugh.
“Then, it depends on whether or not they end up closing all green spaces once the snow melts. I’m kind of lucky with my situation in Olds – the only people who would share my space are sports teams and they’re shut down for the rest of the [school] year.”
With an extra year to train for the Olympics, Andres said she will use the time to continue working on her technique and strength.
“Honestly, an extra year will probably put me in a much better position, as far as my distances go,” she said. “It’s just whether I can get the same opportunities to travel, based on world events and if the coronavirus keeps us from being able to travel to [international competitions].”
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