For many athletes the historic decision adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to defer Games before the crisis of coronavirus it was a blessing. Their complaints had proliferated about the inability to train or even compete to qualify for the date. But there is another group of athletes, smaller, to whom the postponement forces to rethink both professional and personal life. They are the veterans, those who wanted to put a finishing touch to their careers in Japan and now they ponder what to do.
When it comes to valuing Olympic aspects, Spanish sport is silent and listens when Jesús Ángel García Bragado (Madrid, 1969) speaks. Seven Games contemplate you. Tokyo It was going to be the eighth and last. “They had never been held before in odd years, but the IOC he had never seen himself in this situation in his more than 100 years of history ”, he highlights from his home in Sant Adrià, where he tries to overcome general confinement as best he can. “Soon I will get a treadmill home thanks to the efforts of the federation, meanwhile I am doing rehabilitation,” he proclaims resigned. Three hip operations force him to go through “the workshop”.
My idea was to end the national team in Tokyo, but now, like everyone else, I have to reformulate my plans ”
It was planned that the 50 km march would be held for the last time at the Tokyo Games, since the intention is to eradicate all the tests of more than two hours under television criteria. “I prefer to see this postponement as an opportunity rather than as a setback,” he begins. In the summer of 2017, while watching the London Athletics World Cup on television, I realized that in Tokyo it would surely be the last time that my race would be run and I thought I wanted to be there in that last competition. When I made that decision, I knew that it would be difficult to be competitive at 50 years old, but in Doha I showed myself that I could do it – he congratulates himself ”.
The Madrilenian, a podiatrist by profession, does not throw in the towel. “If the one who has a bar has not given up and has had to lower the blind, how am I going to do it. Hopefully the whole situation that the country is going through is like my problem, ”he cries.
I would like to get to the Games, but before thinking about it, we have to get out of the serious situation we are going through ”
His future leaves Laia Palau (Barcelona, 1979) more open, confined to his house in Girona and tired of going up and down stairs to try to keep in shape. The captain of the Spanish basketball team has three Games behind her and that allows her to face the situation with ease. “I am not going to play next year to get to Tokyo, if I continue it will be because I want to play basketball. I am not going to fight like crazy, I am going to follow the normal course of my life and I am very clear that this is ending, “she accepts. Palau guided Spain to silver in Rio and does not hide that the Games are not just any competition. “My idea was to end the national team in Tokyo, but I have to reformulate the plans like everyone else. What I cannot hide is that the Games are an incomparable vital experience, not so much for the competition, but also for the fact of living them ”, he stresses by telephone … although it is easy to guess that he smiles and his eyes light up.
The postponement of Tokyo 2020 also puts Raúl Entrerríos in an uncertain situation (Gijón, 1981). The captain of the handball team, bronze in Beijing 2008, had decided to retire at the end of the season and close two decades of career in the Japanese capital. “I would like to attend the Games but we will see how and when it has to be done and see how the season is configured. We don’t even know yet when it will end. When we get out of this situation there will be time to think about it ”, he says with a certain tone of concern. “It is difficult for me to think about my career with a virus that is doing so much harm to people,” he adds.
The uncertainties mark the current situation of many athletes but especially that of those who are in the final stretch of their careers. “A 28-year-old may think that he will continue to compete without problem. For me 5 months are coming without playing and many things go through your head, you have to live daily, “concludes Palau. “For me, having more time gives me more peace of mind to recover my body, which has war wounds,” says García Bragado. But everyone agrees that it will be a last effort to get to Tokyo.