Aussie athletes back ‘smart’ call for Tokyo delay

World javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber says the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics will "level the playing field again".

Barber said the shifting of the Games to 2021 would be the best result for athletes around the globe.

"I'm really happy that the conversation is there and it's on the cards," Barber said.

"I think it would be a different story if we were saying either yes or no regarding this year. I'm feeling very optimistic that they are talking about (2021).

 

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World champion Kelsey-Lee Barber believes it is smart to delay the Games. Picture: Getty
World champion Kelsey-Lee Barber believes it is smart to delay the Games. Picture: Getty

"It is smart to postpone as it levels the playing field again and gives athletes the opportunity to go out and try and qualify now.

"We only know what we know, there are other countries and other athletes who could be affected so much more by this."

Barber, who won the world title in Doha in October, said she was confident the momentum from that career breakthrough performance would continue into next year.

"I will try and ride that confidence all the way through to next year," she said.

"There is absolutely no reason why that shouldn't still be a lift for me and something which keeps my motivation up."

Barber took gold at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019. Picture: Getty
Barber took gold at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019. Picture: Getty

Canberra-based Barber, who is coached by her husband Mike, will reassess her training program with the coronavirus restrictions set to impact given the shutting down of the Australian Institute of Sport gymnasium.

"I'm normally in the gym every day so that is a big component," she said. "We're going to have to play around a little bit, get creative and sort of set up a home gym."

Distance star Stewart McSweyn had already booked his spot on his first Olympic team after winning the national 5000m and 10,000m titles but is fully supportive of the decision to put his dream on hold.

"You're a bit disappointed but I will have other opportunities and next year will come around quick," McSweyn said.

Stewart McSweyn had already booked his spot in the Tokyo team. Picture: AAP
Stewart McSweyn had already booked his spot in the Tokyo team. Picture: AAP

"You've got to reset, refocus training and then be ready to go with all systems next year

"And what it does is give you the opportunity to have another 10 or 12 months of good training so you'd think you would be in better shape for 2021 than what you could be right now.

"So I'm happy to look at it from that perspective."

Commonwealth Games 800m bronze medallist Luke Mathews said it was a relief not to "be in limbo" anymore.

"There has been so much uncertainty, so it's good to finally get some clearance," Mathews said.

He had already been forced to cancel plans to train in America and would now be able to deal with a foot injury without the spectre of the Olympics.

"I've been a little banged up so I was like should I try (to qualify) and keep cross-training or should I just rest and see how we go," Mathews said.

Originally published as Aussie athletes back 'smart' call for Tokyo delay



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