SA athletes keep Olympic flame burning despite postponement of 2020 games
The Olympic Games were scheduled to take place from July 24 until August 9, but will now take place next year from July 23 to August 8.
As a result, the Paralympic Games have also been shifted to next year, and will run from August 24 until September 5. The sporting codes baseball, softball, surfing, karate, skateboarding and climbing were to make their debut at the 2020 Olympics.
Two Oceans 2018 half marathon winner Nolene Conrad said she was relieved the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had decided to move the Games to next year.
“The well-being of all athletes is more important than any sporting event. The postponement takes off huge pressure as athletes were anxious because they could not get the training in or qualify due to many countries applying lockdown measures.
“I see the postponement as a blessing in disguise. I have been injured for about a year and three months now. I was only due to start running again last week, however unable due to lockdown,” she said.
“I have decided to focus on my rehab during lockdown. I want to use this time to continue to strengthen my muscles and work on some of my other weaknesses.
“I believe that one needs to approach the situation with a positive mindset and view it as an opportunity to grow in all areas.”
Blitzbokke playmaker Justin Geduld said the decision to delay the Games was taken with the health of athletes in mind.
“With me playing a team sport the decision also affected the whole squad. I do feel for athletes in individual sports who worked on a four-year cycle to be in peak performance for 2020,” he said. “However, I am sure they accepted that the health and safety of all athletes is the most important thing.
“Everyone will be affected in some way or the other, but I hope to come out of this in a positive frame of mind. I am still following a conditioning programme and the time with my loved ones will be great for my soul. We can only beat this if we do it together.
“We were the new kids on the block in 2016, where Sevens was introduced to the Olympic Games. You only realise the scale of it once you move around the Olympic village and see all the big names in world sport walk past you.”
Two-time South African 400m hurdles champion Lindsay Hanekom said he was happy about the IOC’s decision to postpone the Olympic Games.
“It’s the biggest sporting event in history where athletes compete to be the best in every sport code. You become immortal if you win an Olympic medal.
“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing during lockdown because I hate being indoors for too long. However, I will be obedient, disciplined, keep dreaming and perfecting my craft as a hurdler.
“Mentally I’m asking myself how fast I could run because I have not competed in 2020. Financially, if you don’t run, you don’t get paid. It is simple as that,” said the Cape Town-born athlete.
Jean-Marc Johannes, who holds four skateboarding Guinness World Records, said: “As my training was under way since 2017, I am physically and mentally conditioned to where I wanted to be. I have peace of mind knowing that I won’t be starting from scratch with regards to training.
“I will continue with my training plan privately indoors, both physically and mentally, to maintain what has been achieved.
“Financially, I have invested in my preparations for the games but not exhausted my resources, as there are specific commitments and goals with my charity initiative I aim to achieve as well,” he added.
At the 2016 Olympic Games, South Africa bagged 10 medals - two gold, six silver and two bronze.