Cate Campbell Adjusting Mentally to Delay of Tokyo Games

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Australian sprint freestyler Cate Campbell sat down with Phil Lutton of The Sydney Morning Herald to talk about the difficulties of dealing with the Tokyo postponement. The Olympic Games were supposed to take place this weekend, but have since been moved back a year so the coronavirus pandemic can slow down.

“I don’t want to be in an Olympic Village right now, because I’m not prepared mentally or physically to be in an Olympic Village right now. I’m not in any sort of state to be there,” Campbell said.

“I oscillate between not wanting to think about it and also wanting to keep that spark alive. One minute I’m ‘who cares, it doesn’t matter’, then it is ‘oh no, this was something special’. You just want to keep yourself motivated.

“That part is really tough, in that there is so much uncertainty and we are putting ourselves physically and mentally through something that requires something at the end, so you push through the present. You are in such discomfort at the time but there is comfort in knowing there is a finish line.

“It hasn’t been completely taken away, just moved. But there’s no real checkpoint between now and then. It’s going to be hugely challenging. The people that pace themselves are the ones that will come out on top.”

Cate Campbell was a favorite to win gold in the 50 & 100 freestyle before the Games got postponed. She was in the same position leading into Rio, but missed the medal stand in both events. In 2017, she took the World Championships off to gather herself mentally in order to ensure she was in a good spot ahead of what would be her fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo. 2018 was one of the best years of her career, where she had the fastest time in the world in the 100 freestyle, as she took down her American rival Simone Manuel.

Cate Campbell has taken great strides in her mental health game, so when the Games were postponed, she allowed herself to grieve the loss of opportunity.

“It came in waves. Initially, I was like ‘right, I’m not going to lose any strength or fitness or focus’. I built myself a gym in the yard and bullied my housemates into exercising crazy amounts with me,” she said. “Then I allowed myself to slow down and that first reaction was not wanting to confront the problem and just run away from it.

“Once I allowed myself to stop and slow down, I realized I was pretty upset and hurt and thrown by what happened. People would say ‘so-and-so’s partner is stuck in Sierra Leone and they won’t see them for six months. At least you aren’t in that situation.

“And I knew that. I knew it wasn’t bad, in that sense. But for me, it was tough. When people said ‘Sorry to hear, it must be really hard’, that helped. Once I let myself get through that, I was able to confront it and then make a realistic plan.

“Not losing strength and fitness is not a realistic plan for a swimmer without a coach and without a pool and stuck at home training in the backyard.”

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