World Meteorological Week
CINDY DAY: Reaching out to a special lady
Call for Indigenous business chamber of commerce in Atlantic region
DENNIS KING: Remembering Bill McKinnon, athlete and friend
WADE BABINEAU EDITORIAL CARTOON: Saturday, March 28, 2020
SALLY COLE: Rosemary Curley leads charge in researching and writing ...
City of Charlottetown purchasing state-of-the-art drone for police ...
FIDDLER'S FACTS: A disappointing end for Summerside Western Capitals
VIDEO: P.E.I. man writes, directs $1 million thriller expected to ...
Nova Scotia’s Olympians are the latest members of the sports community to have their life disrupted even more because of the coronavirus.
The Canadian Olympic Committee announced late Sunday night it will not allow any of our country’s athletes, coaches or support staff to attend the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo unless the global pandemic is under control.
“For sure the initial reaction is I was pretty gutted,” said sailor Jacob Saunders, who grew up in Chester and now lives in Halifax. “It really drains the motivation to hear that. But it didn’t take long to reflect and support the COC’s decision. It’s been interesting following the back and forth and seeing where the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was going with this and where the Japanese Olympic Committee was going, and then assess what was going to happen. But I can only act on solid information and I think Canada really stepped up and Australia also made a similar announcement yesterday.
“Canada and Australia stepped forward as the first nations to put pressure on the IOC to postpone. Obviously if enough countries, especially larger ones that are big participants in the Games pull out, then they’ll probably be forced to postpone it a year and it seems like that’s the most responsible decision right now.”
Saunders is an industrial engineer and, like many people, is now working from home. He is quick to acknowledge it’s a small sacrifice given the current circumstances and also points out where the Olympics should fit in the world’s priorities at a time like this.
“Ultimately all athletes have been impacted by this and sports are important to a lot of people. A lot of people’s lives revolve around them but it’s not essential and, really, these days we have to come back to the basics and make sure we’re all healthy before we can indulge in competing again,” said Saunders, who sails in the 470 class with Oliver Bone of Beaconsfield, Que.
“And really why I think this decision is important is if we were in limbo longer, the motivation to continue training would force some athletes into difficult decisions. They might put their own health and safety, or the health and safety of others, at risk to continue training if they think the Games are going forward this summer. And some countries might not take the appropriate steps to limit their athletes from training and that might make it an unfair competition. And some countries might take risks they shouldn’t be taking to keep their athletes training when everyone should be isolating and adhering to the guidelines that Health Canada and other national health organizations are putting in place.”
Canadian Olympic women’s softball head coach Mark Smith shut down his team’s conventional training as soon as the nation went into full-scale self-isolation. But he and his staff brainstormed over the past few days to come up with ways for the players to stay sharp while also respecting the cross-country guidelines.
“Interestingly enough, we had conference calls with positional groups on Saturday and we talked very specifically about the types of things they could do at home and while isolating,” said Halifax’s Smith, who is also the program’s high performance director. “Whether they’re in their garage or outside alone getting some fresh air, you have to abide by the rules that are in place, especially now that it’s a state of emergency.
“So we gave them things to work on at home like visualization skills. It’s certainly not the same as what you could do if you could go to a gym or an indoor facility to take ground balls or hit off a pitching machine and everything they’re accustomed to doing. But we talked about things that they can do to stay connected to the game and build on the good work that they’ve already done. And that will be our hope, that while they are in isolation, rather than mulling on the disappointment of the announcement, the Olympics are going to take place and it’s just a matter of when so what are the things we can do to stay connected as a group and as connected as possible to our technical and tactical play.
“It means being creative but we’ve got some great members of our coaching staff who have had some great ideas and the athletes certainly bought into them on the weekend. The message is just that we have to stay the course and control the things we can control.”
Halifax’s Ellie Black and David Kikuchi of Fall River are members of the Canadian gymnastics team as an athlete and coach, respectively, so they too are affected, as is Paralympic triathlete Kamylle Frenette.