Who May Benefit From Postponement of the Olympic Games? (Part II)

Bronte Campbell before her swim-off at the 2019 World Championships. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Who could really benefit from the Olympic Games postponement to 2021?

When the Olympic Games got pushed back a year, there was a huge sigh of relief for many athletes who were struggling to find adequate training locations to be at their best this year. So with the Games moved to 2021, that provides athletes an extra year to grow mentally and physically to be at their best next summer. Although mostly everyone has been out of the water for the better part of two months, many have used this time to re-evaluate their goals and perhaps recover mentally from the last block of training.

On Saturday, we looked at seven athletes who could really gain an advantage from an extra year for the Olympics. Those swimmers were:

  • Nathan Adrian, USA
  • Kathleen Baker, USA
  • Brent Hayden, CAN
  • Chad Le Clos, RSA
  • Margherita Panziera, ITA
  • Luca Urlando, USA
  • Alex Walsh, USA

As of this writing, there are 419 days until the Tokyo Olympics, and Swimming World wanted to take an extra look at additional swimmers who might benefit from an extra year of preparations after having various obstacles come their way.

Mireia Belmonte – ESP


Mireia Belmonte – Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Mireia Belmonte had injuries get in her way in 2018 when she pulled out of the European Championships, and she looked like a shell of herself at the 2019 World Championships. Belmonte, who won two medals in Rio at the 2016 Games including a gold in the 200 butterfly, made two finals at Worlds last summer in the 800 & 1500 free but finished eighth place in both events.

But Belmonte had started looking like her old self at the ISL final in December, putting herself in the top ten in the world in the 200 fly and 400 IM for the 2019 calendar year. The Spaniard raced well for the London Roar and came up big for her team when needed, which has been something she has been known for – showing up when it matters. Belmonte has been reported to be back in the water, and with an extra year to prepare she could see success in Tokyo.

Bronte Campbell – AUS


Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The 25-year-old former world champion freestyler has a history of shoulder, neck and hip injuries and the 2019 season had a lot to do with rehabilitation and recovery. Now, Campbell, coached in Sydney by Simon Cusack, is grateful to have been given the extra time. In an interview with SEN Radio April 21, she said:

“I had a pretty rough start to the year with injury and I was really fighting the clock to get up and running and fit for the trials and then Olympics. I felt like I was going to make it but it was going to be a really tough push and a very fine line. Now I have more time to prepare … there’s definitely some benefits for me.”

Campbell reached the final in the 50 free at the World Championships in finishing eighth after winning a swim-off to get in. Campbell has also been an integral member of Australia’s 4×100 free relay team that has lost only once internationally in nine years. With an extra year to rehabilitate her shoulder, Tokyo could bring her first individual Olympic medal.

David Curtiss – USA


David Curtiss, right, with Pennington School coach George Ward. Staff Photo

Rising sprinter David Curtiss swam a 19.42 in the 50 free in short course yards in February to break the national high school record before it was ultimately broken by fellow World Juniors teammate Matt Brownstead a few weeks later. Curtiss had a breakout 2019 summer where he won the silver medal at World Juniors in the 50 free behind the Ukraine’s Vladyslav Bukhov after having the fastest time in the semifinals, a sub-22 clocking of 21.95. Curtiss was 24th in the world in the 50 freestyle, and with an extra year of high school before he goes off to NC State, he could be one of the breakout stars in Omaha.

Kosuke Hagino – JPN


Photo Courtesy: © Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Kosuke Hagino, the reigning Olympic champion in the 400 IM, had a rough 2019 where he lacked motivation to train for Tokyo and had a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of his career. He pulled himself out of consideration for Japan’s 2019 Worlds team, but had resurfaced after the championships at a few of the World Cup meets. In the 2019 calendar year, he was 22nd in the world in the 200 IM and 34th in the 400.

Preparing for a home Olympics can be rather stressful, especially coming in as the reigning champ. An extra year of preparation could be beneficial for Hagino as he pushes to get back to his 2016 form that saw him win two individual medals and a relay medal in Rio.

Mehdy Metella – FRA


Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Mehdy Metella had actually intended on not competing this year, electing to undergo shoulder surgery this year with the intention of coming back strong in 2021. That was in December, and now with the Games pushed back to 2021, we can imagine that was just what the doctor ordered for the Frenchman, who was fifth in the 100 butterfly at the 2019 Worlds. If Metella can keep that intensity and focus through rehab and through to 2021, then this extra year could be beneficial for him.

Penny Oleksiak – CAN


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Penny Oleksiak was on top of the world in 2016 at the age of 16 when she tied American Simone Manuel for gold in the 100 freestyle and also won silver in the 100 butterfly. She became the first Canadian Olympic gold medalist in swimming since 1984 and also swam on three medal winning relays for Canada. The following years were rough to live up to, but she had a really solid 2019 season. Her individual swims at last year’s Worlds were good, but she saw extra success in relays, where she threw down three great splits en route to three bronze medals.

There has been a lot written about Canada’s young core of women’s swimmers, that has been led by Oleksiak in recent years. With an extra year to train and grow, the extra year of preparation could be helpful for Oleksiak as she leads a Canada team seemingly destined for greatness.

Gretchen Walsh – USA


Gretchen Walsh; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

We mentioned Alex Walsh as one who could really benefit from an extra year of preparation for the Olympic year, and her sister Gretchen could definitely fit in that category as well. In the early days of 2020, Gretchen was ranked 20th in the world in the 100 free and 23rd in the 50. The winner of both sprint events at last year’s World Juniors still has another year of high school before she heads to the University of Virginia in the fall of 2021 after the Olympics.

Walsh is in the same position as the aforementioned David Curtiss as someone who could really benefit from an extra year of training, growth and development with their club coach ahead of the Olympic Trials. Walsh has been on a steady climb the last few years and has been dangerous in the sprint free events. With an extra year, 2021 could be her year.

If the Walsh sisters both make their way on the team for Tokyo, they would be the first siblings combo to make an Olympic team for the United States since Dana and Tara Kirk made the team in 2004.

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