Lethbridge swimmer Rachel Nicol was preparing for Olympic trials that could qualify her for her second Games, but after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced earlier this week that Tokyo 2020 would be postponed, the athlete said she felt relief.
“The IOC said that it wasn’t going to decide anything for like four more weeks, and that leaves us athletes sort of in duress and uncertainty,” Nicol said.
“We were still trying to train to be at peak performance in a few months, which is just so unrealistic at this point.”
The IOC made the decision after the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday evening that Team Canada would not be sending athletes unless the Games were postponed.
Nicol said she is proud that Canada was the first country to make such a move, putting the health of its athletes first.
But the move of Tokyo 2020 to 2021 wasn’t without any disappointment for the 27-year-old, who was having a promising year after spending more than two years recovering from an injury.
“I was finally getting around to a really good place and felt confident going into trials,” said Nicol, who was originally scheduled to fly to Toronto on Friday for Olympic trials.
After successfully going through the process four years ago for Rio 2016, the swimmer said her experience has been nothing but a bonus.
“I feel like I can train better now as, I guess, a ‘mature athlete’ at 27,” she laughed. “But yeah, training was going really, really well.”
In Rio four years ago, Nicol was a double finalist, finishing fifth in both the 100-metre breast stroke and as a member of Canada’s 4×100 medley relay team.
Team Canada finished with a total of six medals in the pool in Rio. With Tokyo now postponed, Nicol said the focus can now be solely on improving that performance.
“I kind of want to just see it through and see how it goes,” she said.
“It just kind of feels like unfinished business at this point.”
Nicol said she plans to take full advantage of the extra year of training, once pools reopen.
“I do plan on training for another year, because what’s one more year at this point really?” she laughed. “I know that isn’t true for everybody, but I’m fortunate enough to be able to do that. So I’m just kind of treating it as a building year.”View link »