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Tokyo 2020 Olympics was meant to start today — here’s what athletes are doing instead

Friday July 24 was meant to mark the beginning of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the event has been rescheduled for July 2021.

So, on the day they were meant to be preparing for their events in Japan, what are Australian athletes doing instead?

We spoke to four competitors from across the country to find out.

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‘Nightmare scenario’

A woman in her 40s runs in front of greenery on a gravel path.
Marathon runner Sinead Diver is balancing Olympics training with her kids’ remote learning and fulltime work.(Supplied: Riley Wolff from Tempo Journal)

Sinead Diver’s path to the Olympics was anything but orthodox.

The 43-year-old marathon runner took up running at the age of 33 to get fit following the birth of her two children.

After playing amateur basketball for years, the Melbourne resident found running easier to fit in around work and family commitments.

It was when Diver joined a running group she realised she was good enough to compete.

Tokyo 2020 would have been her first Olympic Games.

“It’s difficult to deal with, knowing that we should be in Japan now,” she said.

“Instead we are in lockdown, in a bit of a nightmare scenario with homeschooling.

Alongside her partner, Diver has been trying to juggle a fulltime job in IT, training and looking after her boys.

With future travel restrictions and the race calendar uncertain, Diver and her team have reduced the intensity of training.

She is aiming to compete in the London Marathon in October, and is really hoping Tokyo goes ahead this time next year.

Extra room for growth

A young woman in green and gold digs a volleyball.
Australia’s Taliqua Clancy is hoping for a medal in the Olympic beach volleyball competition next year.(AP: Petr David Josek)

Taliqua Clancy, 28, is Australia’s first Indigenous Olympian in beach volleyball.

She may not be in Tokyo today, but she will be with her fellow athletes.

“We will be going into the Queensland Academy of Sport — they are having a breakfast to mark the occasion of one year out,” she said.

Along with her partner Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Clancy is at the top of her game.

They took home the silver medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and stand a good chance of finishing on the podium in Tokyo.

“We still feel very confident we can get a medal,” Clancy said.

When coronavirus first hit, tournaments were called off and training altered dramatically.

“We all had our own home gyms and we would Zoom call in, in the beginning,” she said.

Now things are pretty much back to normal, and Ms Clancy has her “fingers crossed” the Games can go ahead in July 2021.

“There is nothing better than when you are around the Australian team all in green and gold.”

“The goalposts have moved, but the goal remains the same.”

Third seed working from home

A young man eyes a pig pong ball.
When David Powell isn’t representing Australia playing table tennis, he is teaching mathematics in Melbourne.(ABC News: Ashleigh Stevenson)

This Friday David Powell, 29, will be at home in Melbourne teaching mathematics to a class of year 8 students using Zoom, rather than gearing up to compete in table tennis.

“I should have been marching into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony,” Mr Powell said.

Powell has been playing table tennis since he was eight, and now ranks Australia’s third best player.

His first major event was the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Despite coronavirus restrictions and full time work, Mr Powell is still training four to five times a week on top of conditioning.

“I’ve always had to manage full time work with playing, not just the major competitions but the other competitions as well,” he said.

Although 2020 has thrown him a number of “curveballs” in both his teaching and table tennis careers, Mr Powell says he has been able to adapt.

This time next year he hopes instead of students watching him teach, they will be watching him compete for Australia.

“The school has quite a strong history of being good at table tennis,” he said.

‘Not how it was meant to go’

Female hockey player in green and gold Australia uniform bends over to hit a white ball with a wooden hockey stick.
Australian hockey player Edwina Bone will be training with some of her team in Perth this Friday.(Supplied: Hockey Australia)

Today Edwina Bone thought she would be in Tokyo watching the Opening Ceremony with her teammates before going to bed early in preparation for their first match against Spain on Saturday.

Instead the Hockeyroos defender will be up early for team training in Perth, before going to work out at the gym and having dinner at home with her husband.

“This was not how this year was meant to go,” she said.

Even with COVID-19 spreading, the 29-year-old didn’t think the Olympics would be delayed.

“I was in shock, and a bit relieved they weren’t completely cancelled,” she said.

After debuting with the Hockeyroos in 2013 and joining them for the Rio Games, Bone was planning to retire after the Olympics this July.

Now she is hoping she can continue playing and make the squad next year.

“We are very lucky here, we can still keep training, we have weekly matches,” she said.

Despite the initial shock and disappointment Bone, who is at Edith Cowan University, can see some positives.

“As much as it sucks that Tokyo didn’t go ahead, it was good because I got to go into a school and do my first placement,” she said.

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