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  • Joy SpearChief-Morris

One More Year

Photo by Mathieu Belanger

This news wasn't a surprise, but that doesn't mean it didn't still hit like a stack of bricks. There is truly no other option in order to safe guard the health of not only us as athletes, but also us as human beings, as well as our loved ones and everyone in our global community right now. Team Canada made the right decision in their statement by pulling Canadian athletes out of the Tokyo Olympic Games should they proceed this year in July 2020. However, I would be lying if at the moment of learning this news, with all the uncertainty involved, I didn't feel like I'd been punched in the stomach. Waiting to hear if the IOC would officially delay the Games until 2021, was a stressful 24 hours, and thankfully they have been postponed.

I have honestly had trouble processing all of this news. In one instance, I am relieved for the Games delay. With the world situation changing as quickly as it is day by day, even hour by hour, I would not have had the proper opportunity to qualify for these Games by June. An essential training and competition camp in California I had meant to attend only a few weeks from now had to be cancelled. Every qualifying meet I had intended to compete at until June have also been cancelled. With the new qualification process for the Tokyo Olympics, I need at least five meets in order to qualify, and it was looking grim at whether I would be able to even find five meets in time. Not to mention the general health concerns of being out and competing, as well as everything shutting down from training facilities and gyms and the need to socially isolate and be home; our ability to train safely has been incredibly hampered. This is not just a special case for myself. Athletes all over the world in every sport are facing the same situation right now.

For those who had already qualified for the games, I understand their sadness. Yet, I can also understand their worry of having to make the choice between risking their safety and the safety of their teams and loved ones in order to compete at these games, or choosing to forgo a dream altogether. Team Canada, and now the IOC, have recognized that this is a choice no athlete should have to make. There is truly nothing easy about this situation and the decisions being made for anyone.

For myself, I am also feeling a mixture of sadness, confusion, longing, and even guilt. For those of us who train for these Games, it's not just something that we do for a year, or even four years. Many of us have dedicated huge portions of our lives to this pursuit. This has been something I have been working towards for eight years. There have been many choices I have had to make about the way I live my life in order to pursue this. This extends beyond simply staying in on a Saturday night or watching what I eat. I have had to make serious choices about where I live, what type of jobs I work and how much I can work, when I want to pursue a career, when I can travel for enjoyment, even when I can see my family. None of these are easy choices but they are choices I made because I wanted to see how far I could push my body and my abilities; because the love I have for competing is something I wanted to see through to the ultimate level. Because being able to run fast in those moments when it all comes together at the right time is indescribable. I feel for my friends and other athletes who have made similar choices, and their own sacrifices to pursue their dream, this definitely does not make it any easier right now.

I would be lying if I said that it hasn't been taking a toll on me. Perhaps not so much on my body; I have learned that I my body is pretty damn strong, but emotionally and psychologically. These past few years have been some of the hardest of my life. The choices and sacrifices I have been making seem to be harder and harder to do each year. The thought of that magical 2020 year is what has been keeping me together at times. So to learn that we are now delaying another year has brought with it a lot more emotions than I thought it would have.

This is not the end for me, nor is it the end of this season (at least I hope). While a lot remains up in the air about what will happen this year, or even next week to be honest, I know that I am still going to see this Olympic dream through all the way. Although it doesn't make this any easier, I know the current situation is a lot bigger than sport - bigger than me - and requires all of us to make some sacrifices right now. The work doesn't stop, it's just changed for now. When the time comes, we will all come out of this stronger. I will come out of this stronger, and ready to conquer.

For now, I may still need a little time to fully process things, but you best believe my goals haven't changed. I am still dreaming of wearing the Canadian flag on my chest, it'll just have to wait one more year.


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