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How these athletes overcame severe obstacles to train for the Olympics

Kevin Cordon

LINTAO ZHANG | POOL | AFP

Cerith Gardiner - published on 08/04/21

These men and women had to get creative to get ready for Tokyo 2021.

This year’s Olympics have proved demanding in so many ways for the participating athletes. With so much indecision due to COVID, the run up to the Tokyo Games has demanded an immeasurable amount of determination and strength.

Thankfully these sportsmen and women channeled their desire to represent their countries into finding ways to maintain their grueling training schedule while lots of the world are in lockdown.

So when we see these Olympians take part in their various events, it’s important to consider the extra efforts they went to in order to achieve such sporting greatness.

Katie Ledecky

It’s incredible to think that one of the greatest ever female swimmers had no place to train for the Olympics when Stanford was forced to close down. Thankfully, the former Stanford swim coach, Ted Knapp, heard about Ledecky’s training problem. He called on his neighbor, Tod Spieker, who has a 25-meter swimming pool, complete with two lanes, flags and timer, and asked if Ledecky could train there.

Even though Speiker, 74, was an All-American at UCLA in his youth, he decided he’d willingly help out his college rivals and offered his pool for Ledecky and fellow swimmer Simone Manuel to train in. The pair practiced for three months, with Speiker’s grandchildren watching on, according to a report in Mercury News.

The inter-generational support the swimmers have received will no doubt prove vital to them as they go for gold. And no matter how they perform on the day, the Speiker family, young and old, can take heart in their contribution to the American swim team.

Hidilyn Diaz

The Filipina champion not only proved her strength in her Olympic training, she showed just how innovative she could be. With her team stranded in Malaysia due to COVID lockdowns, she had no access to the usual training equipment.

However, the weight-lifter managed to train using water bottles, water jugs and bamboo sticks. To make it more challenging she resorted to using duffel bags filled with the water jugs that were then balanced on sticks.

And while she managed to get creative with her equipment, she didn’t have the support of her family to keep her going. However, she stayed positive, “I sacrificed a lot. I wasn’t able to be with my mother and father for how many months and years and then of course, training was excruciating. But God had a plan.” Diaz said after her gold medal win, as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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A post shared by Hidilyn Diaz OLY (@hidilyndiaz)

Kevin Cordón

The Guatemalan badminton champion was unable to train for the Olympics in his regular training center in Zacapa, because it became a field hospital to cope with COVID cases.

Thankfully, Cordón happened to pop into his local parish hall of the St. Francis of Assisi Church. It proved the perfect training ground: “One day I took a look at the salon to see what the height, light and space were like. It has the same measurements as a normal court,” he shared with ESPN Digital, as reported by ESPN.

With the help of the parish priest and local officials, the 34-year-old was able to set up the equipment to meet with the regular federation standards and was able to continue his training.

No doubt he’ll continue to count on some Divine help in his training to help him win the coveted gold!

Tags:
Inspiring storiesOlympicsSports
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