On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly announced the postponement of the 2020 Olympics to no later than 2021.
It was another blow for sports fans, desperate for spirited, live competition, which has been nonexistent for two weeks.
For some of the actual Olympic hopefuls, however, the announcement wasn’t the worst news they could’ve heard. That’s true for El Dorado native Izzy Gati, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky and one of the top swimmers in the United States.
Gati, who finished second in the SEC Championships in the 200 butterfly, was actually anticipating the announcement.
“Honestly, I am not surprised,” she said. “With all sports cancelled right now and into the next few months, I could see this call being made. Also, all athletes right now are not able to continue their normal training and preparation for the Olympics. By moving the Olympics back a year, it takes pressure off athletes who were not able to train.”
Gati, who was a high school state champion as a freshman at El Dorado before finishing her prep career at The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia, posted the second fastest time in the nation with her 1:52.54 in the 200 butterfly. She was also fourth in the 100 butterfly. Gati has qualified for the US Olympic Trials in both events.
Although she posted career-best times, she’s not upset at the postponement.
“Personally, it helps me out,” she said. “I get another year to get stronger and better. My training has been going really well, so I just want to keep that momentum up and see what I can do at trials. My coaches have been telling me that it is possible for me to make top 8 at trials, so I have made that my goal.”
So far, Gati has been reaching all of her goals. She was especially pleased with her performance at the SEC Championships.
“I was beyond happy with how I performed at SECs. I got pneumonia two days before our mid-season meet in November, so going into SECs, I did not have any time goals. I just wanted to see my training and hard work pay off,” she said. “I think my main goal was not to put too much stress on myself and just to have fun. The 200 fly was a fun race to swim because I had great competition and could hear my team cheering for me. SECs is the most fun meet of the year. We are the only conference to have both men and women’s team compete at the same time. The other conferences have separate meets for the women’s and men’s teams. The atmosphere is like no other, and I think using the energy from the fans and teammates is what helped me in my races.”
Cheering fans won’t help the athletes during the nation-wide sports shutdown. Academically, Gati said she’s accustomed to taking online classes. Two of her five classes were already online, and she regularly takes online classes in the summer.
Her swim training, however, has been difficult.
“I have not been out of the water for over a week for the past five years. Now I am having to get creative with how I am staying in shape since I am not able to train in a pool and lift in a gym,” she said. “I have been running to help keep my endurance up, doing body weight workouts and yoga. It is more a mental struggle than a physical struggle for me at this point. I have to keep reminding myself that every swimmer is in the same boat I am and can not swim. Swimming is a sport where if you take an extended period out of the water, you lose your feel for the water, breath control, and technique.”