Shannon Reynolds

Submitted by admin on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 14:50
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WebHeaders_Canoe_Sprint_1600x698 Website Hero Image Shannon Reynolds
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Fast Facts

Sport: Canoe – Sprint
Event: Kayak
Olympic History: Olympic debutante
Coach: Ramon Andersson 
Year Born: 1995
State Born: Western Australia    

About Shannon 

Shannon Reynolds was 14 years old when she was identified as having the physical attributes of a kayaker. She developed her skills as a member of the Bayswater Paddle Club, rising with the sun to train on the water and at the gym. 

Reynolds first represented Australia at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival. That same year she was wearing the green and gold at the Junior World Championships where she finished eighth as part of Australia’s K4 500 crew. 

A string of good performances rewarded Reynolds with selection to Australia’s Under 23 World Championships team during 2014, 2015 and 2017.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Smiles for days @catmcarthur92 @briannamassie

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Reynolds clinched her ticket to Tokyo by finishing fifth in the women’s K1 500 at the 2020 Australian Canoe Sprint Championships.   

When she is not paddling, Reynolds is trained in nursing and midwifery, working as a first aid officer at a local high school. 

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Who is your greatest influence?

My parents and coaches – I’ve had the same coaches all the way through my career. 

What is your career highlight?

Competing at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney was probably my favourite moment in my sporting career. It was a great opportunity and stepping stone from being a junior athlete transitioning into an older athlete.

What is your nickname?

Shan

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Cat McArthur

Submitted by admin on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 14:36
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WebHeaders_Canoe_Sprint_1600x698 Website Hero Image Catherine Macarthur
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Fast Facts

Sport: Canoe – Sprint
Event:  Kayak
Olympic History: Olympic debutante
Highlights: Third in the K1 500 at the 2015 U23 World Championships
Coach: Anna Wood
Year Born: 1992
Country Born: Singapore  

About Cat

Catherine ‘Cat’ McArthur grew up in Singapore and moved to Melbourne to go to boarding school. The South Australian Sports Institute athlete attended University in Adelaide and relocated to the Gold Coast to join the Queensland Academy of Sport National Women's Canoe Sprint Program. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

TGIF 🙌

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McArthur got her paddling start as a 16-year-old through a school sport program. A friend’s older sister was kayaking and McArthur wanted to follow in her footsteps. She paddled in a school team relay at the Murray Marathon.  The challenge to see how far she could push herself is the reason why she pursued the sport. 

Between 2012-2015, McArthur represented Australia at the Under 23 World Championships and nabbed several top 10 results including K1 500 bronze in 2015.  

In 2018, McArthur achieved a career highlight when she won K1 1000 bronze at the Duisburg (GER) World Cup. 

 

In 2020, McArthur helped Australia secure additional Tokyo 2020 quota positions when she and paddle partner Brianna Massie defeated New Zealand in the K2 500 at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships. 

McArthur secured her ticket to Tokyo by finishing fourth in the K1 500 at the 2020 Australian Canoe Sprint Championships and third in the K2 500.

Outside of paddling, McArthur is a part-time physiotherapist and pilates instructor. 

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What is your favourite/most memorable sporting moment?

Cathy Freeman in 2000 – There was an article in the paper with the headline “Catherine the Great!” and I ever since then I have wanted to earn my own headline like that!

What do you do when you’re not kayaking?

Working as a physiotherapist and pilates instructor keeps me very busy! That, as well as cooking with my housemate Aly Bull and keeping up with coffee dates with friends. 

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Jaime Roberts

Submitted by admin on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 14:19
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WebHeaders_Canoe_Sprint_1600x698 Website Hero Image Jaime Roberts
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Fast Facts

Sport: Canoe – Sprint
Event: Kayak
Olympic History: Olympic debutante
Highlights: Breaking the Australian record and placing second in the K4 500metres at the 2018 Szeged World Cup
Year Born: 1990
State Born: Western Australia  

About Jaime

With a swimming and surf lifesaving background, Jaime Roberts found kayaking an easy transition. 

 

In 2012, Roberts was crowned WA state ski champion in surf lifesaving, and she switched to flat water paddling the following year. She was inspired to aim for the Olympics after listening to the radio call of the Australian men’s K4 1000 gold medal-winning race at London 2012. “I was driving a truck on a mine site up in the Pilbara… it was such an exciting few minutes that finished with the men crossing the line first. From that moment onwards I decided to give kayaking a crack and see if I could make it to the Olympic Games,” Roberts said.   

Roberts was noticed by the Western Australian Institute of Sport Head Coach at the 2013 WA State Kayaking Championships and it put her on a path to success.  

 

In 2014 she represented Australia at the elite level for the first time competing at World Cup and World Championships. 

An Australian Surf Life Saving Championships finalist in ski events, Roberts represents the Mullaloo SLSC and has also represented Australia at the Lifesaving World Championships.  
 

 

Between 2017-2019 she was named on the Australian Canoe Sprint Team racing in both the K2 and K4 events. 

At the 2019 World Championships, Roberts joined forces with Olympians Aly Bull, Alyce Wood (nee Burnett) and Jo Brigden-Jones to secure Australia four quota positions for the Tokyo Olympics after qualifying the K4 with a seventh place in the final.

 

Roberts realised her Olympic dream after she won K2 500 silver (with Brigden-Jones) and finished sixth in the K1 500 at the 2020 Australian Canoe Sprint Championships

Roberts graduated University with a degree in mining engineering, has a graduate diploma in education and a certificate 3 & 4 in fitness teacher. When she isn’t paddling, Roberts is a casual high school teacher. 

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What is your favourite/most memorable sporting moment?

Ian Thorpe.  Athens 400metres freestyle race.  How relaxed and calm he is at the start, but the amount of power he produces to glide across the water.  A true Australian sporting hero!

What do you do when you’re not paddling?

I am a full-time athlete, but I do have work outside of paddling.  I work for ASADA as a presenter of the Anti-doping Education workshops, which I find very interesting.  Also work as a relief teacher in the off-season.

What is one thing that people might now know about you?

I was actually a World Champion before I started kayaking, In Mining Games which is an International competition between Mining Universities across the world, where we compete in old-school mining techniques such as Gold panning, wood saw and mucking (digging).

What is your advice to young paddlers?

I have fallen in so many times I can no longer count, so just keep trying. 

There is always something to learn in our sport and that’s what makes it so unique.

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Jean van der Westhuyzen

Submitted by admin on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 09:41
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WebHeaders_Canoe_Sprint_1600x698 Website Hero Image Jean Van der Westhuyzen
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Fast Facts

Sport: Canoe – Sprint  
Olympic History: Olympic debutante  
Highlights: Becoming Junior World Champion in the K2 Marathon  
Year Born: 1998 
Country Born: Cape Town, South Africa   

Growing up in Cape Town South Africa, a young Jean van der Westhuyzen watched his Australian sporting heroes, Ken Wallace and Murray Stewart on television.

He moved to Australia to pursue his dreams of becoming a Canoe Sprint Olympian and now trains alongside his role models, looking to make his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.


Van der Westhuyzen started as a marathon and sprint paddler but since moving to Australia his focus firmly shifted to sprint racing. 

In 2016, he claimed gold in the K1 1000 metres at the Junior Canoe Marathon World Championships, becoming the first South African male to win a medal at this level. 

Representing Australia, he partnered with Riley Fitzsimmons, Tom Green and Jackson Collins to win the K4 500 at the U23 World Championships.

He also won a silver medal in the K2 1000m at the Under 23 World Championships, together with Collins.

Van der Westhuyzen made his first senior national team in 2019 and finished 10th in the K1 1000 at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.

In 2020, van der Westhuyzen and Green won the K2 1000 in the first Olympic selection event. The pair won in an impressive time of 3mins, 12.27sec which was 1.74sec ahead of London Olympic Champion Stewart and Rio Olympic medallist Lachlan Tame.


At the 2020 Australian Canoe Sprint Championships and second Olympic selection event, van der Westhuyzen finished second to Green in the K1 1000 and K1 500.

The 21-year old joined forces with Green to race the K2 1000 and the pair finished second behind Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood.

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Josephine Bulmer

Submitted by admin on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 08:57
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WebHeaders_Canoe_Sprint_1600x698 Website Hero Image Jo Bulmer
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Fast Facts

Sport: Canoe – Sprint  
Olympic History: Olympic Debutante 
Coach: Craig Colduck / Cristi Florian    
Year Born: 1996 
State Born: South Australia

About Josephine

After watching her brother enjoy the sport of paddling when he was selected for the South Australian Sports Institute's talent identification program, a curious Josephine Bulmer followed him into Kayaking. 

Growing up in North Haven South Australia, Bulmer spent nine years climbing the junior ranks and represented Australia at the 2014 Junior World Championships where she finished in the top 10 of the K1 and K4 500 metres.  

After nine years, and at the recommendation of her coach, Bulmer made the switch to canoe events at the age of 19.

Her switch followed an announcement that canoe racing would make its debut on the women’s schedule at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with the change in discipline reinvigorating the young athlete and motivating her to push ahead with her ambition to represent Australia at an Olympics.  

Bulmer represented Australia at the 2016 and 2017 World Championships before making her elite debut in 2018 and at a World Cup event in Germany, Bulmer secured her first-ever senior final in a C1 200 event.  

In 2020, Bulmer wrote sporting history when she and paddle partner Bernadette Wallace secured Australia’s first-ever women’s Olympic Canoe quota spots.

The pair won the C2 500 at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships and Bulmer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic debut was confirmed.

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AOC welcomes postponed Tokyo Olympic Games

Submitted by admin on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 10:05
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll speaks to the media during an AOC press conference at the MCA Building on March 19, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has welcomed the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Japanese Government and the Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee (TOCOG) to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games until next year.

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The AOC recognises that the Games’ organisers have an enormous task ahead of them to move the Tokyo Olympics to next year but have no doubt that Japan will put on a great Olympic Games.

AOC CEO Matt Carroll says it’s a challenging moment in history during tragic times globally, but athletes and sports now have absolute clarity that enables them to focus on a Games in 2021.


“The IOC has received fresh advice from the World Health Organisation. The pandemic is accelerating, and this decision recognises that. 

“As President Bach has noted, “Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games.”

“The Games have never been postponed previously. But I have no doubt that when the world moves past these very difficult times, the Tokyo Olympic Games will provide an opportunity for the world to reconnect in a spirit of unity and hope. Japan is up to the task and they will do a great job.

“In the meantime, we also will work through the implications of the postponement with all our member sports, their athletes and our partners so we can deliver an Australian Olympic Team to Tokyo next year who will make Australians proud. 

“Many Australians are trying to cope with vast challenges to their health and their livelihoods. We desperately hope that we can all meet these challenges and that our Australian athletes attending the Games in 2021 can contribute to restoring hope and national spirit,” Mr Carroll said.

 

 

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman praised the response of Australia’s Olympians and aspiring athletes. 

“We know that there has been great relief and acceptance from our athletes with the news from the IOC and Japan. Our athletes have been magnificent working their way through some very difficult times during recent weeks. 

 “Their world, as athletes and as members of the Australian community, has been turned on its head.
“All along, they have been conscious of the plight of their peers around the globe and the reality here in the Australian community, as we live through these unprecedented events. 

“We will continue to communicate with athletes and sports to provide further clarity around the critical issues.

“We understand that those athletes and teams who have been qualified will not be required to re-qualify. That will give the athletes some comfort – but we will await further details on that process.

“Our key message at the moment though is to stay safe and keep those around you safe. There are some tough times ahead but at least we now know we have a new goal and the planning will start straight away.” 

The AOC is implementing a range of initiatives to promote athlete health and well-being, providing regular communication with information and resources to help them manage. 

IOC Statement: Tokyo 2020 postponed until 2021

Submitted by admin on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 06:07
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The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have announced the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, originally planned to begin on 24 July 2020. 

The official joint statement is below.

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The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, held a conference call to discuss the constantly changing environment with regard to COVID-19 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.

In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.

The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is "accelerating". There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan.

It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Aussie athletes react to AOC statement - #TokyoTogether

Submitted by admin on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 09:13
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AOC CEO Matt Carroll announced yesterday that due to the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, the Australian Olympic Committee would not be fielding a Team for Tokyo 2020, and the support of athletes, National Federations and fans alike embodied the true meaning of the Olympic Spirit.

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Although disheartened, the Australian athlete community was overwhelmingly supportive of the news, which places athlete, sport, fan and community safety above all else.

#TokyoTogether

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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To all the athletes. Amongst the job losses and uncertainty around the world, it might not be understood how you too may have lost your job and feel a lack of purpose. Many of you work tirelessly every day without reward, without recognition all striving towards your goals, a moment in time to show what you’ve sacrificed your normal life for, years of commitment and discipline. I hope you know you are appreciated, acknowledged and that this is just another setback, like many you’ve had, and you will overcome it like every other time before. I just wanted to say - you’ve got this. Keep being awesome, keep inspiring and be the best you can be. Sport brings people together, so we need you. #sport @olympicchannel @olympics @owi_aus @ausolympicteam @sportaus @vicinstsport @drinkutonic @aerosphere @wayneritchies @karbonsports @xtm_performance @7olympics @7sportau @fisfreestyle

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Heartbroken but not surprised. This virus has swept the world, shattering so many peoples' dreams and visions of the future. Yesterday it was Olympic athletes turn to have their worlds turned upside down. . The news that the Games would be postponed indefinitely (but hopefully until 2021) came as no great surprise but still sent shock waves through the Olympic community. To be honest, I'm left reeling and feeling a little lost. But the goal posts haven't disappeared - just shifted. It's time to recalibrate and fire up for the next challenge 💪 . Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages, the outpouring of support makes me proud to be Australian. I'm thinking of everyone who has been affected by this pandemic, let's stick together through these times and come out a stronger more united community. We are all in this together. . Sending love to everyone, stay safe, stay healthy and maybe grab a bottle of wine or two 🍷💕 . #Olympics2021#samedream @ausolympicteam @dolphinsaus

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People around the world have had life as they know it completely shaken and replaced with uncertainty and questions. It is now our turn, as Olympic athletes, for our world to be flipped upside down. In the short time since the news the Tokyo Olympics Games will be postponed, I have ridden not just a rollercoaster but the entire theme park of emotions. I am devastated for myself, my team, Australian athletes and all those striving to compete at the Tokyo Olympics around the world. I was shocked when the postponement became a reality but at the same time, I am not surprised. I feel lost. I am overwhelmed with questions and thoughts of everyone impacted by the pandemic. This is unprecedented and the uncertainty can be overwhelming. Please reach out for help it you need it. I am relieved. Athletes around the world will now have the chance at a proper preparation and the Olympics can, on whatever date they are held, continue to be a coming together of the world's best at their best. I feel love from my team and from all your messages of support. Thank you, it really means a lot. Our Olympic dream is not over, just on hold right now. 💚💛 Stay safe and well. Look after your mental health, practice social distancing, wash your hands. We can curb the spread, protect each other, get through this together. #Olympics2021 #dreamliveson #washyourhands #spreadlove @waterpoloaus @ausolympicteam

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Here’s to the 2021 Olympics. Stay safe everyone x

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🌏The last 24hours in Australia have seen many developments. Our prime minister issued a lockdown which will undoubtedly have adverse affects on many businesses and industries, including gyms and sporting centres. But after seeing how Australia as a nation can come together to support each other as we did with the bushfires, it’s time for Australia to come together (not literally) again and take this seriously and listen to our guidelines on distancing and socialising. This is crucial in where our country ends up and whether we can be a nation that can #flattenthecurve and bounce back or one that causes our healthcare system to collapse. 🏸@ausolympicteam has supported a postponement of the Olympic Games, putting the health of athletes, their families and importantly the public first. It was great to be able to voice our view as an athlete to the AOC and know that they took on board our thoughts and concerns. Despite the Olympics being every athletes dream and biggest goal, the greatest sporting event in the world wouldn’t be the same without athletes being able to perform at their best and due to so many athletes facing difficulties in terms of training, access to facilities and postponed and cancelled qualification events now is not the time for the worlds greatest show, it’s time for the world to put its focus on its greatest fight yet. Instead of countries coming together to cheer their athletes lets unite against and beat the virus! The next few weeks the International Olympic Committee will provide more information on a potential postponement til 2021 🙏🏼🙌🏻 Wishing everyone a safe journey to humanities recovery 🌱🌏 #staysafe #staysane #stayhealthy #TokyoTogether

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…We are one, but we are many ⁣⁣ And from all the lands on earth we come ⁣⁣ We'll share a dream and sing with one voice ⁣⁣ "I am, you are, we are Australian"⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ With events being postponed daily and health and safety a number 1 priority. The @olympics was the next question on all athletes minds! @ausolympicteam updated today that the Australian team plan for a reschedule of Tokyo! Other countries like Canada have recently announced the same stance towards a rescheduled #TokyoTogether plan! TBC dates/ plans from the International Olympic Committee will come in the following month ahead! ⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #bmx #bmxracing #olympics #olympicgames #tokyotogether #covid19 #coronavirus #2020olympics #sport #australia #tokyo2020

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Athletes excel at dealing with adversity and overcoming challenges. We will stick together and tackle the challenges ahead #TokyoTogether #staystrong. #Repost @ausolympicteam ・・・ Our athletes need to prioritise their own health and the health of those around them during this challenging time, and it has become clear that the #Tokyo2020 #OlympicGames can’t be held in July. Aussie athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing this year, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them. Therefore, Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021. While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the #coronavirus crisis will be under control. Over the coming week and months, we will continue to work towards #TokyoTogether. 🔗 to media release in our Instagram story.

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..and just like that there will be no 2020 Olympic Games for me nor the rest of Australia. The Australian Government has banned international travel prompting the @ausolympicteam to withdraw from competing at the Olympic Games if it is to be held in 2020. If the International Olympic Committee defers the Games till 2021, we will get the opportunity to compete. The decision will be made in the next 4 weeks (however I feel this will come sooner). This has certainly thrown a spanner in the works, but I stand by the @ausolympicteam and their decision. A Games cannot be held in 4 months’ time. • • We are fortunate to still be able to train, but other sports and other countries are far less fortunate. The @olympics is supposed to be fair and equal for all. • • At the end of the day, this is just sport. COVID-19 won’t wait. Lives are at risk and this crisis needs to be dealt with. • • We will continue to chip away at what we can until further decisions are made, but for now, listen to those in charge, make good decisions, and think of those less fortunate and more vulnerable than you. • • We will get through this.. but we need to do it together. ✨🙏🏼❤️ • • #covid_19 #olympicgames #tokyo2020 📸 @hikarimedia

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The IOC have said that they have stepped up scenario-planning and will make a decision on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games within four weeks, as of Sunday 22nd March 2020.

AOC plans for postponed Olympic Games

Submitted by admin on Mon, 03/23/2020 - 12:31
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The AOC says Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.

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The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations.

The AOC held an Executive Board meeting via teleconference this morning and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad.

AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll says athletes have needed certainty - they wanted to do the right thing for themselves, their families and the world community.

“We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs. With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation.

“The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles.

“We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”

“I would like to thank AOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Steve Hooker for his valuable contribution to discussions today and over the last week, representing the views of our athletes,” Mr Carroll said.

Australian Team Chef de Mission for Tokyo Ian Chesterman says he has communicated to athletes after receiving feedback from athletes from more than 25 sports last week.

“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.

“They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world. That has been a consistent message to me.”

“While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control.

“We are aware that for many such a postponement will present a range of new issues. But when the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity.”

Mr Chesterman said there were numerous issues that flow from any postponement, from qualification through to logistics on the ground in Tokyo, but that these can be worked through in a timely way.

Mr Carroll says he will be communicating with National Federations around Australia today to work through the issues now the situation has become clearer.

Georgia Baker - Enduring loss and heartbreak on the road to Tokyo 2020

Submitted by admin on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 17:21
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Georgia Baker of Australia celebrates after winning the Women's Madison with Annette Edmondson during Day Three of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome on November 10, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
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Tokyo 2020 Track Cyclist Georgia Baker is the embodiment of an endurance athlete, not just for what she does on the bike, but for facing the devastating loss of her father, a medal-robbing crash at Rio 2016 and a heart condition that threatened to end her career.

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The 25-year-old has endured everything life could throw at her.

Baker grew up in Tasmania and earned her black belt in taekwondo by the time she was nine. Along with competing in elite triathlon, swimming and local netball, she was an all-round athlete.

“My whole family was pretty sporty, so from a young age my parents encouraged us to be active, try a lot of different sports and I really developed a passion for it,” Baker said.

 

“I was a black belt in taekwondo, which surprises a lot of people. Half of my teammates don’t even believe me, so I’ve needed to get the photos out on my phone to prove it to them,” she laughed.

Her athletic prowess led to Baker being talent identified for a few different sports: cycling, basketball and rowing.

Being her favourite leg of the triathlon, cycling seemed like the best fit for the youngster and her first experience of the track proved she made the right decision. 

“I went up to the velodrome in Launceston and rode the track for the very first time and have loved it ever since,” she said.

Cycling soon became a bonding activity between Baker and her dad, Patrick, who wanted to ensure she was safe on the road.

“My dad was a pretty good athlete himself, so I used to train with him a lot. He started riding with me just so I wouldn’t be riding the roads of Tasmania by myself.”

With her dad by her side, Baker became a multiple junior world titleholder, but in 2015, tragedy struck for the Baker family when Patrick suddenly passed away of a massive heart attack.

Baker understandably refers to it as the worst time of her life.


“It affected me a lot and it still does,” she shared. “But the most important thing he instilled in me, was to be strong. 

“Dad was the one that taught me the importance of self-belief. He pushed me, he believed in me and whenever I ride my bike, I always think of him,” she shared.

“He just loved life; I remember him always being really happy. He’d never hold a grudge and he’d make the most of every opportunity.

“When things get really tough, I just think about how my dad would cope in the same situation.”

While navigating the grief of losing her ‘best friend’ and ‘biggest supporter,’ the surprising prospect of an Olympic debut came knocking on Baker’s door.

“Straight after my dad passed away, I was given an opportunity to go on a camp ahead of the Rio Olympics. Prior to that, I wasn’t even in the picture for Rio,” she explained.

“After that, everything was a bit of a whirlwind.”

Baker made her debut at Rio 2016, alongside Melissa Hoskins, Annette Edmondson, Amy Cure and Ashlee Ankudinoff in the Team Pursuit. 

The Aussie women were hot favourites to dominate the podium, after finishing 2015 as the World Champions and World Record holders, but a freak crash during training left four of the team injured, two days out from competition.

 

Hoskins was taken to hospital by ambulance, while Ankudinoff suffered a subluxation of the AC joint in her shoulder, and Baker and Cure had severe bruising and track burns. Edmondson was the only team member who managed to escape unscathed.

“The crash definitely did impact our performance,” Baker said. “After the crash, we had girls on crutches being carried and physically placed onto their bikes to compete.

“It showed a lot of courage to be able to do that because there were so many injuries.”

Despite their disadvantage, the team put in a gallant effort, but the effects of their injuries sent the gold medal favourites to fifth place.

Coming home and dealing with the grief of losing her dad, along with having her Olympic aspirations come crashing down hit like a truck for Baker.


“Coming home from Rio was very tough. I struggled a lot because I’d lost my dad the year prior and didn’t have time to properly process that because everything [being selected for Rio 2016] happened so fast,” she explained.

“I achieved my dream of going to an Olympics, then for the crash to have happened, and for it to have pretty much been my fault for hitting the wheel in front of me, was a lot to deal with.

“It was overwhelming and took me about a year to get over it,” she continued.

“It wasn’t until the following year when I missed out on the world championships that I said to myself, ‘come on Georgia, you need to pull yourself together, there’s another Olympics in three years.’

“Missing out on that world championships team was the turning point for me, I hated it and that’s when Tokyo 2020 became the focus.”


Although she had already faced her fair share of setbacks, the blows kept coming for Baker and in June of 2017 she was diagnosed with a heart condition.

“I was overseas racing for the professional women’s team in the London women’s tour and my heart rate became really high, I thought I was having a heart attack,” she said.

“Given what had happened to my dad, they took it very seriously. They ran some tests and eventually I was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) and I needed to have surgery.

SVT is an abnormally fast heart rhythm caused by an overactive nerve in the upper part of the heart. For Baker, it sat in the junction of her heart.

“It is a hereditary condition. My mum doesn’t have it so it’s assumed that my dad would have had it,” Baker explained.

“My sister also has SVT and needed to have surgery too and when I have kids, they will most likely have it as well.”


After surgery, Baker was told her time on the bike was limited.

It was a devastating blow for the then 22-year-old, who was just getting back on her feet.

“After surgery, I had a specialist tell me I wouldn’t be able to ride beyond 2020, which was really hard and confronting,” she said.

“They told me I had scarring on my heart which was a combination of both what I’d been doing [cycling] and the SVT, so I wouldn’t have very long left of my cycling career.”

It made Baker’s drive towards for Tokyo 2020 come with a sense of urgency, as it could well have been her last Olympic Games.

With no time to waste, two weeks after her surgery, Baker was back on her bike and within a year, won gold in the Team Pursuit at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

In 2019, she teamed up with Ashlee Ankudinoff, Alexandra Manly, Amy Cure and Annette Edmondson to win world championship gold in the Team Pursuit and silver in the Madison and finished the 2019-20 World Cup season with three Madison gold medals and Team Pursuit gold and silver.

 

Currently, Baker is well on-track for success at her second Olympic Games in July, which, in a well-deserved and fortuitous turn of events, won’t be her last after all.

“Cycling Australia encouraged me to get more tests done recently and those results were a lot more positive,” Baker explained.

“The specialists told me that although my heart still drops a beat occasionally, that is quite normal for athletes.

“They said the worst thing that could happen from me continuing to ride would be another SVT, but the likelihood of that happening is really low and it’s not life-threatening.

“Now, I can ride my bike for as long as I want, it’s just something I will need to continue monitoring and testing every year.”

With a long and bright cycling future ahead of her, Baker’s goal for Tokyo 2020 and beyond is simple: golden redemption.

“Our biggest goal as a team, is Olympic gold and we’ve been preparing for nothing less than that,” she said.

“We’ve been training so hard to stand on the top of that dais and that’s exactly what we will be striving for.”

Liana Buratti