Olympians Have Another Year to Prepare for Tokyo. It’s a Blessing and a Curse.


She took two years off after winning a team gold medal and a silver in the balance beam at the Rio Games, working in entertainment. She competed on “Dancing With the Stars” — and won it — and also hosted “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”

When she embarked on a comeback to the national team late last year, many people in the sport said it was too late. Before her gym was closed Thursday because of a statewide lockdown, she had been going there six days a week, at least five hours a day, training and rushing to fine-tune routines. She was doing everything and anything that could give her the best chance at making the Olympic team this summer.

“Of course, I’d love more time to train,” she said last week.

For other athletes, a postponement fit with what the doctor ordered.

Kathleen Baker, 23, who won a gold and silver medal in swimming at the Rio Olympics, has Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that makes her especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

Training lately had descended into a search for open pools in San Diego, where she lives. “It’s been everyone fending for themselves, so it is not what the Olympics are all about,” Baker said recently.

Sandi Morris, a pole-vaulter who won a silver medal in the 2016 Games, lost access to her regular training facility, and thus her finely tuned routine, when the University of Arkansas closed its doors this month in Fayetteville.

This weekend, Morris — along with her two dogs and two birds — had planned to drive from Arkansas to Greenville, S.C., where she will rent a house near where her parents live to carry out a makeshift training plan at a pole-vaulting pit her father is building at a neighborhood soccer field.



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