Postponed Olympics mean postponed dreams for former Ole Miss athlete

Postponed Olympics mean postponed dreams for former Ole Miss athlete
The Tokyo Olympics have been pushed back from 2020 to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: CNN)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The coronavirus claims another event. Tuesday’s official announcement of the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympic put the dreams of more than 10,000 athletes worldwide who were expected to descend on Tokyo Japan this July.

One of them is a former track and field star at Ole Miss, whose new reality means another long year of training for the gold.

Raven Saunders has stood on the Olympic stage before. Nicknamed “Hulk”, this powerful woman narrowly missed the medal stand in the shot put at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Her personal best put of 63′5″ netted her a fifth-place finish on the world stage.

Saunders said, “It was one of those things, we were kinda, we were hoping, holding onto hope that it wouldn’t happen, but, it was kinda expected.”

For about a year now, she’s been working out at the U.S. Olympic Training Site in Chula Vista, Califonia outside San Diego.

Expected or not, Saunders said news of the Olympics postponement hit the camp hard.

“It really threw everything soo far off. Training cycles, getting ready for different workouts and getting ready for the season. Also not being able to have the weight room or time in the throwing ring here, things like that." Saunders explained, "It’s really altered training tremendously, but we’re just trying to make the best of it.”

Saunders said USA track and field pledges to do what it can to help keep the athletes in shape, like giving $400 to buy home workout equipment.

“Everyone here, especially being around such elite level athletes, is trying to keep a positive mindset, a positve mindframe, things like that,” Saunders said.

“Also, Brittney Reese, a professional gold medal long jump from Ole Miss. Brian Williams, who was the SEC champion at Ole Miss also, they’re also out here training with me. And Brittney, this next Olympics is probably her last... the goals haven’t changed, everybody’s willing to push forward.”

Saunders is doing her best to see a silver lining. Injuries prevented her from competing last season, so she said this gives her more time to come back stronger than ever. “Yessir! Another year to get that Gold Medal!”

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