Everything was set for one final training push before Allison Beveridge crossed the Pacific Ocean and landed in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
Suddenly, the 2016 Olympic bronze-medal cyclist in team pursuit was left with a wide-open calendar and only the vague promise of a rescheduled 2021 Olympics.
It was not an easy adjustment.
“It was bigger mentally than physically,” the 27-year-old Calgarian said. “I don’t think you can stay pushing with that intensity mentally and physically for 16 months. You kind of have to come down at some point and (be) at your base and kind of build back up.
“Mentally, it changes from being ‘OK, this is the end of the (Olympic) cycle’ to a lot longer without any foreseeable carrot in sight to kind of motivate and drive you.”
Beveridge was a serious contender for Olympic medals in 2020, and she remains one with the Games postponed for a year.
She won bronze with her team of Jasmin Duehring, Kirsti Lay, Georgia Simmerling and Laura Brown at the Rio Olympics four years ago, and the team remains a threat heading into Tokyo.
Beveridge also ranked second overall in the World Cup omnium standings in 2018-19 and won bronze and silver medals on last season’s World Cup circuit.
But the pandemic affected her preparations for Tokyo. Athletes tend to create training plans with their teams that will have them peaking physically during the Olympics. A delay of an entire year impacts those plans, and it meant Beveridge and her teammates went from what they anticipated would be an intense couple of months to needing to take their feet off the gas.
“Everything kind of went from being full-on for the next four or five months and one last big push to ‘OK, take a big break and kind of reset and go from there’, “ Beveridge said. “Cycling Canada gave us a lot of freedom to do what we had to do during that period. They gave us some minimum requirement workouts we had to do or endurance activities for the week, but other than that were really flexible and were like ‘We’re here if you need us.’ ”
Beveridge expects a big, final push towards the Olympics to begin in January and has been training consistently to stay ready for that.
She has also spent time on other things, including helping launch a virtual portal for the RBC Training Ground program.
The program helps connect athletes with national team coaches and has paid huge dividends for Canadian sport. While some athletes choose their sport and train at it from a young age, many others have been discovered and recruited to a new sport through the RBC Training Ground.
Beveridge was already a world-class cyclist when the program launched in 2016, but she did switch from swimming when she was 14.
Kelsey Mitchell, who holds the cycling world record in the women’s sprint, was discovered through the RBC Training Ground.
“We’ve had a strong female sprint program in the past, but now we have two female sprinters who were found through the RBC Training Ground program,” Beveridge said. “We’ve had big success from the program, and cycling as a whole has a lot of transfer athletes.
“They definitely use it as one of the big (resources) to find and develop talent that might otherwise have been missed and it’s exciting to see the sport growing in Canada.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020