Tat­jana has more time to im­prove her skills

De­ci­sion to post­pone Tokyo Olympics ‘needed to be made’

Pretoria News - - SPORTS - HER­MAN GIBBS her­man­[email protected]

TWO-TIME Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal­list Tat­jana Schoen­maker says she is greatly re­lieved that the Tokyo Olympics has been post­poned to next year.

In the light of her con­quests on the world swim­ming cir­cuit last year, Schoen­maker has emerged as one of South Africa’s lead­ing medal con­tenders for fu­ture global events. Last year she racked up medals at the World Stu­dent Games, Fina World Cham­pi­onships and the Tokyo World Cup.

These mile­stone achieve­ments all con­trib­uted to her be­ing crowned Sports Star of the Year and Sportswoma­n of the Year at last year’s SA Sports Awards.

“It is a de­ci­sion (post­pon­ing the Tokyo Games) that was needed to be made as peo­ples’ lives are at risk due to the world­wide coro­n­avirus,” said Schoen­maker.

“From a per­sonal per­spec­tive, the cancellati­on is a let-down. For 15 years it has been my dream to com­pete at an Olympic Games. 2020 would have been it. But then again, what dif­fer­ence is an­other year go­ing to make?

“It gives me more time to im­prove my swim­ming skills. I got a fan­tas­tic team sup­port­ing me, which means post­pon­ing my pro­gramme by a year ought not to be a prob­lem.”

Schoen­maker said the last few weeks was shrouded in mys­tery as the COVID-19 pandemic made its pres­ence felt around the world. It cast doubts over the Tokyo Olympics tak­ing place.

“The re­al­ity is that South Africa will go into lock­down. I am not sure if it would have been pos­si­ble to con­tinue to train,” she said.

Schoen­maker said he was re­lieved that the “wait­ing game” was over and that swim­mers could en­joy the ben­e­fit of ex­tra time to pre­pare for next year’s Games.

Mean­while, the IOC is work­ing with sports bod­ies to ar­range a July-Au­gust win­dow for the post­poned Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and hopes to con­firm the sched­ule within a month, Ja­pan’s Yomi­uri news­pa­per re­ported yes­ter­day.

John Coates, the IOC’s co­or­di­na­tion com­mis­sion chief for Tokyo, told the Yomi­uri that the Games would have to be held be­tween the ten­nis grand slams of Wim­ble­don, slated to end in mid-July, and the US Open, which starts in late Au­gust.

“We want to more or less fi­nalise the dates in four weeks’ time,” the say­ing.

Coates, who is also pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee (AOC), said the mid­dle of the year sched­ul­ing would be de­pen­dent on avoid­ing clashes with the world cham­pi­onships for swim­ming (July 16-Au­gust 1) and ath­let­ics (Au­gust 6-15).

World Ath­let­ics boss pa­per quoted

Coates as

Se­bas­tian

Coe has said the world ath­let­ics cham­pi­onships in Eu­gene, Ore­gon could be moved back to 2022 if nec­es­sary.

Coates told the news­pa­per the hope was to fol­low the same ar­range­ments next year that had been planned for 2020, in­clud­ing hold­ing the marathon in the north­ern city of Sap­poro in­stead of Tokyo to es­cape the heat.

MUZI NTOMBELA Back­pagepix

TAT­JANA Schoen­maker has emerged as one of SA’s lead­ing medal con­tenders for fu­ture global events. |

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