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The 2020 Toyko Summer Olympics and Paralympics that were scheduled to take place in late July, have been postponed until at least 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement impacts athletes all over the world, including local triathlete Stefan Daniel. Daniel was set to represent Canada on sports' largest stage at the Paralympics, but said that it's the right decision to postpone the Games.
"It’s tough for all the athletes but it’s the right decision and I support it 100 per cent," Daniel said.
"This is bigger than sport, and I’m proud Canada was able to take a stand and be the first country to do this. We have the best health authorities in the world and they made this decision with our best interest in mind. We can now properly isolate without any stress of needing to be in peak form. As an athlete my job is to be ready to race whenever I’m called upon. If that happens to be in 2021 I’ll be ready to go. We just have to wait and see."
The former St. Timothy School student has a number of accolades to his name as both a cross-country runner and triathlete. From numerous high school titles to three paratriathlon world championships, a silver medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and a top 10 finish in the USport Cross Country Championships, Daniel has demonstrated an ability to compete at nearly every level. Daniel was recently named Triathlon Canada’s Triathlete of the Year.
He said he'll be ready to compete when the Games are rescheduled after the pandemic.
"I’m hoping the games get delayed until 2021. They’re making a decision soon so we just have to wait and see. We respect it’s a hard decision to make, postponing a games is so complex and there are so many things that have to happen," Daniel said.
"For me, I’m using this time to try and make some improvements in my riding. I’m riding indoors and trying my best to use all the free time to improve my weakness. It’s a challenge to keep the competitive mindset but having something new to focus on makes it much easier."
"I’m looking at it as a blessing in disguise. Not only can I take more time to develop my strength on the bike, but now I can really take my time with my return to full running. I’m still building up my running after sustaining a navicular stress fracture in the fall. Rehab is going well but it’s nice to know I have more than enough time to get run fit before I race."
Daniel competed for Canada in 2016 during the Rio Paralympics, but says he's relishing in the chance to do so again, whenever that may be and hopes to transfer over to the Olympic Games in 2024 and 2028.
"It’ll be an honour to do so again," Daniel exclaimed. "It’s pretty surreal racing when you know you have so many people back home supporting you. That feeling will continue to drive me as I continue to push toward my next games, whenever it may be."
"I need to continue to progress in all areas in order to make the Olympics one day, but I’ve had solid progression over the past year and it’s getting to be a more realistic goal. I still have a ways to go, and who knows if I’ll be able to make it. But I owe it to myself to try."
He also said he appreciates all the support he gets from the people of Cochrane.
"The support from Cochrane means everything," he said.
"Cochrane is where I got started in sport and I still have lots of friends that live there. I also use the new pool for some of my training as well. Everybody there has been so supportive of me since day one. I’m hoping I can do them proud at my next Games."