How Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponement is set to impact Sky Scholars
By Sarah Dawkins, Olympics Producer
Last Updated: 05/04/20 10:26am
In the end, the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and moving it back a year came as no surprise.
But that didn't make it any less gutting for the athletes who build their gruelling training regimes, careers and life plans around four-year Olympic cycles.
For two Sky Scholars eager to make their debut on the Olympic stage, the wait got longer.
They talk to Sky Sports News about how difficult it was to accept the postponement, training techniques in isolation and what's keeping them motivated.
TOKYO 2020…IN 2021
Sprinter Imani Lansiquot has been preparing for Tokyo since 2012 and admits the news of the postponement was "heartbreaking".
But the 22-year-old south Londoner is embracing the positives from life in lockdown.
"I've always planned and mapped out my life and I feel that's something athletes do, we plan every miniscule thing. So I thought 'OK, I'll be 22 at the Olympics, 26 I'll be at the Olympics'.
"It's been a good test, knowing how to readjust my plans, being able to adapt but stay focused at the same time.
"This is a really great opportunity for all athletes to think about their weaknesses and focus on the things they need to do to be better."
Gymnast and world champion Joe Fraser says he felt "hurt" and initially found it difficult to come to terms with the postponement.
"You build yourself up to that Olympic Games that you've been dreaming of your whole career," he said.
"Since I was five I've been dreaming of going to an Olympics. Then all of a sudden, it was up in the air over whether it was going to happen or not. So that feeling was really weird.
"But having a few days actually thinking about this situation and how many people have been affected by COVID-19, I think it's definitely the right decision and giving everyone an extra year could actually work in our favour so we just have to see the positives and move forward as we can."
Training remains as important as ever for athletes like Lansiquot and Fraser who both felt they were in good shape physically and mentally before the restrictions came into force.
Lansiquot added: "We have no choice but to be properly prepared for next year - you can't really see this as a down year because you're going to have the biggest year of your life next summer.
"Regardless of whether you're an Olympic champion or it's your first Olympics like myself, everyone feels the same feeling and it's quite a common theme of doing what we can and being there for each other.
"No one has an advantage over someone else - everyone can't train, everyone is having to find cool, quirky ways to train at home. I'm looking at all these videos on Instagram of people thinking I'm going to try that, so it's really good seeing how other people are managing it."
Without the gym, Fraser is getting creative with not just his training but his choice of training partner.
"The first thing I've been doing is writing a plan of what I want to do each day so I've got a plan of action," he said.
"I do the pommel four days of the week. I also live very close to a reservoir so I've managed to get a set of rings that I hook over a branch by the water, so I go there to do some strength.
"I've been lucky enough to have a pommel in my mum's bedroom. She's had a go on it and I've been giving her a few lessons. She's not quite ready to take on the world just yet!"
THE GROUP CHAT
Fraser admits that usually he spends more time with his British Gymnastics family than his actual family and now that's transferred online.
"We've got a massive group chat with the coaches, gymnasts, support staff, physios, doctors. Every day we've got new challenges, like press up challenges, run challenges and obviously everyone is very competitive so we keep ourselves busy.
"I did a handstand challenge the other day where I was trying to hold it for as long as I could and I managed two minutes and six seconds. And then my team-mate beat me so that made me think I had to do it again!"
Lansiquot, meanwhile, is throwing herself back into her university work. She had initially postponed the majority of her final year to next year to clear her schedule for the Olympics. Now she's racing to get it finished so she can graduate this summer. And failing that, there's always the TV!
"Netflix is my best friend. Now they have Netflix parties so me and my friend, it's like going to the cinema, we can link up on Netflix parties and watch stuff.
"I've just become a complete home person, I'm loving it. I think that's kind of the positive thing that's come out of this - just stopping for a second. Life is so hectic for all of us but I'm just really enjoying just being at home, being chilled and seeing what's in my control and what isn't for the first time at the moment."
Lansiquot already has a European gold and World silver medal under her belt but acknowledges there's so much more she can learn before next summer.
"I've got a long way to go and this is a fantastic opportunity for me to catch up to my competitors, to work on the small things that are going to get me to where I need to go.
"Now I've got so much time to work on those niggling things that I wish were better and my ultimate goal is to be the best version of Imani at the Olympic Games next year."
Fraser, who became world champion on the parallel bars last year, is now recognising the opportunity the extra time offers.
"Every day I'm one step closer to achieving that dream. I don't want to look back and say if I'd done that or I'd done this, I could have achieved this. So I'm just doing as much as I can so I don't have any regrets."