(Reuters) – Triathlon world champion Katie Zaferes has been unable to keep on top of her swimming while she is on an enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic but she is confident that come 2021, competing at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will be more meaningful.
The 30-year-old American was in the midst of a Florida training camp when she and her husband decided to skip town as the spread of the coronavirus escalated in the United States.
So they drove all day last Wednesday up to her parents’ home in Maryland, where they feel safe even though swimming is not an option.
Running and cycling, however, can proceed pretty much as normal, albeit with suitable social distancing.
“Swimming is not possible in the situation I’m in right now,” Zaferes said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
“We don’t have access to any pools and there aren’t any lakes where we are. We chose to be in a place where we felt comfortable and safe over choosing to be in a place for high performance.”
Despite winning the 2019 World Triathlon Series over the Olympic distance — 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run — Zaferes has not yet qualified for the Tokyo Games.
That is because she crashed her bike during an Olympic qualifying race in Tokyo last August.
Compatriot Summer Rappaport, who finished fifth, earned the first spot on the American Olympic team, which leaves two other places for U.S. women up for grabs.
Zaferes’ next chance to secure that berth should be in May in Yokohama, a race that is still on the schedule although it is widely expected to be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t want to count it out and then not be prepared,” she said. “We’ll try to be as best prepared as possible.”
Zaferes believes that when the rescheduled Olympics is finally staged in 2021, it will be a truly joyous celebration.
“I’m really thankful that it’s postponed and not canceled,” said Zaferes, who finished 18th at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I see it now as being even more meaningful because it will be about overcoming something and uniting (us) altogether, a really positive vibe.
“That’s what I think the Olympics is about. The coming together afterwards is going to be really spectacular.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)