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Olympics Postponement Alters Training, Dreams

Jeff Dugdale
Queens University

Eight years ago, Queens University in Charlotte sent five swimmers to the Olympics. Four years ago, the Division II school that has won five straight national titles had 12 Olympians who trained in the Queens pool go to the 2016 Rio Olympics. They came back with eight medals.

This year?

“Obviously, we’ll never know,” Queens swimming coach Jeff Dugdale said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus concerns, which means a lot of uncertainty for athletes who were going to train at the Charlotte pool.

“There are some people who are probably right on course to do the best they can in another year,” Dugdale said. “Some people are going to have to find how to financially support themselves for another year. If they were under the university system getting everything paid and now they’re going to graduate, now they’ve got to figure out how to balance a job or looking for a job. This economy, what’s happening, there’s going to be things we don’t know yet.

“It’s the old saying that’s going to be most appropriate here: you don’t know what you don’t know.”

This marks the first time the Olympics have been postponed. Three times in the event's history, it was canceled -- during World War I and World War II.

By Dugdale’s count, there were about 10 current or former Queens swimmers who were attempting to qualify for Olympics teams around the world. One, 2019 graduate Marius Kusch, had recorded a qualifying time in the 100-meter butterfly for the German Olympic team earlier this month.

After he qualified, though, Kusch was philosophical about the possibilty of the coronavirus altering his Olympics plans.

“There’s only so much I can do about something I can’t control,” he said. “I believe you have to control what you control. There’s not anything I can do about it.”