Several Griffith University athletes who had been officially selected for Tokyo 2020 will now hit the books after news the Olympics would be pushed to July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Artistic swimmers Kirsten Kinash (Bachelor of Public Health) and Rachel Presser (Bachelor of Arts) were set to make their Olympic debuts this year.
World Champion cyclist Stephanie Morton OAM (Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice) was also set to ride in her second Olympics, her official selection in March bringing Griffith’s early athlete tally to three.
With the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) confirming all athletes who had already qualified would remain in the team, a relieved Rachel Presser is now adjusting her schedule in preparation.
“The Olympic cycle has essentially been pushed back a year,” she said.
“I’m still hopeful that we can represent Australia and fulfil our goals. Many of us just are trying to take our minds off sport.”
Rachel said her coaches have put in tentative plans for the year, sending home workouts and using group videoconferencing to alleviate isolation and maintain fitness levels.
“Many of us are putting our energies towards work and study,” Rachel said.
“Griffith Sports College have been tremendous, touching base with us to work out our needs.”
Griffith Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy OAM said course convenors had stepped up to accommodate top level athletes like Rachel, looking to focus on their studies.
“We’ve had 12 athletes join courses in the past week and they’ve received excellent support from Griffith, giving these students a silver lining,” McCarthy said.
As a former Olympian, she understands the disappointment some athletes may be going through.
“Athletes are a determined bunch and they bounce back pretty well,” McCarthy said.
“Some are taking a break, while others want to progress faster through their degrees. My role is to give them options that suit them.”
Griffith Sports College has helped more than 550 student athletes with dedicated assistance to successfully balance the high demands of elite sport and university life.
Recently, support expanded to include reduced costs for physiotherapy and nutrition.