SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- On one hand, this week's postponement of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo is certainly disappointing.
However, for Olympic hopefuls that we spoke to, it's necessary both for the sake of fighting the Coronavirus, and for having a fair shot to qualify once the opportunity comes.
USD pole vaulter Chris Nilsen knew early in the COVID-19 pandemic that the Olympics wouldn't happen.
"As soon as the NBA shut down that's when I was like, it's over. You got to think about how popular sports are in the USA, and how popular the Olympics is in the USA, and I think it was just a matter of time. Personally I was saddened by it, as every potential athlete would be, but I think the governing bodies are doing what should be done." The Three-Time NCAA Champion Nilsen says.
Though it's hard to predict what is next, Nilsen's coach and former Olympian Derek Miles is happy that they'll have at least a year to figure it out.
"I felt relief in the sense that okay, now we're back to a level playing field. We can take our time, we can rebuild back up and we can be ready to go. But to feel like we were ready to go to the Olympics in three or four months with no place to train and no meets to prepare for (wasn't realistic)." Miles says.
For now, Nilsen and USD alum Emily Grove are among many Olympic hopefuls trying to figure out how they'll train with virtually all facilities shut down.
"I haven't done anything besides a core workout, and I think that's probably what we got to do." Nilsen says.
"We have to be creative. What can I do with what I have?" Miles says.
Which will also be the case when meets and qualifiers can start again.
"Whenever you go over to Europe and you go to a random track that you need to do a little pre-meet at you're going to need to adapt and overcome with whatever you can. If you got to do some 100's on the minute, you better find a flat grass field and hope that you don't roll your ankle. If you need to do a medicine ball workout you find a heavy rock and hope it's not sharp on either end." Nilsen says.
Facing those issues might prove easier for younger athletes like Chris, and might even put them in a better position to succeed when all is said and done.
"I think that's probably a significant disadvantage that are toward the latter part of their career. But younger athletes, I think in sport, you have to be resilient. So I want to make sure that I get kids working on the things that they need to fix. And Chris included. He's got some weaknesses that, as a young athlete, he needs to fix. And so this might be a perfect time to work on those things." Miles says.