Gillian Ellsay, third from right, with her Rally Cycling teammates in 2018. Photo supplied

Elite Comox Valley athletes weigh in on COVID-19

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics have been postponed until next summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

READ: Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

For the time being, elite athletes are doing what they can to continue training while social distancing.

“I am staying busy with training, the end of the school semester and reading lots of books for fun,” Comox Valley cyclist Gillian Ellsay said by email. “I am training solo right now and closely following the advice of Public Health officials. The more we all follow that advice, the faster life will get back to normalcy.”

Ellsay had been riding with Rally Cycling, an American-based professional team that competes in the Union Cycliste Internationale. (Her brother Nigel is still with the Rally team). She now races with InstaFund La Prima Racing, a Vancouver-based UCI women’s team.

She feels the postponement of the Games was the best thing the International Olympic Committee could have done.

“It wasn’t fair to the athletes or coaches to still be training while there is a pandemic occurring,” said Ellsay, who attends the University of Victoria. “In addition, although the whole world is grappling with this pandemic, there is a big variance in what stage countries are at. So I don’t think the playing field would have been close to equal for a 2020 Games. Also, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced before the IOC decision they would not send athletes to a 2020 Olympics, which was a pretty bold move. But one that was necessary, in my opinion.”

Black Creek runner Cam Levins — who competed in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the 2012 Olympics, and who broke the Canadian marathon record in 2018 — had been training in Kenya in February and March. He was preparing to compete at the annual Rotterdam Marathon in Holland, but the event has been postponed until October.

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation with constantly evolving information,” Levins said in a Facebook post in March. “I am in great shape and would love to run any available race, as I still do need Olympic qualifying standard. However, at the suggestion of my coach, my agent and my governing body, the recommendation is to return home to await future instruction.

“My individual health risk is low, but social distancing is an act of generosity and solidarity for the benefit of others. I support the efforts of all government and athletic leaders who have made the difficult decisions to disrupt the lives of so many to help control the escalation of this disease, and protect our most vulnerable populations.”

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