But that doesn’t mean the announcement wasn’t crushing for local athletes, whose dreams are now on pause.
Ajee Wilson, 25, of Neptune, has been chasing Olympic gold her entire career.
After a disappointing finish in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Tokyo was her chance to shine.
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“I tried out for my first Olympic team in 2012, didn’t make it. Second time around, I made it, didn’t do as well as I wanted. So I’m in a different place in my career where I feel like I was in a good space to perform well and really give it my all,” she told CBS2’s Christina Fan.
But then the coronavirus threw her plans – and thousands of others – off track.
Under intense pressure from the international community, Japan postponed the 2020 Games, pushing it a year back.
Olivia Baker of South Orange, who has been training for the 800 meter, agrees it was the right move.
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“That doesn’t stop it from still being a little disappointing. I was looking forward to taking my shot this year,” Baker said.
Texas Christian University track and field coach Lisa Morgan says athletes who were training to peak in July now have to readjust their training regime.
“At some point, the body caps out, it taps out. So you have to plan the workouts, you have to plan your races, your race strategies in that moment. So when it’s that two month window, you are ready to maximize your potential,” Morgan said.
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Athletes also have to readjust mentally.
“I count my blessings, I’m young. I’m 23 so next year I’m at a stage in my career where I’m only getting stronger,” Baker said.
The finish line is still there, just a little distance further down the road.