“From an emotional perspective, I have to stay motivated, focused on making my fourth Olympic team and achieving an individual medal.”

Keston Bledman is 32, and knows that the next Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, could be his last. Postponement of the Games because of the Covid-19 pandemic presents a challenge for the 2008 Olympic 4×100 metres gold medallist.

“I would have preferred Olympics in 2020,” the Trinidad and Tobago track star told the Express, “as my training was progressing well to peak at the right time. More importantly, I am no longer in my 20s, so an extra year means a longer training period. From a physical perspective, I have to focus on staying healthy and training smart.”

Bledman said the novel coronavirus outbreak has impacted on his finances.

“As a professional athlete, participating in competitions is a major source of income, so no competitions mean no income. Another source of income are contracts, which are based on performance, so with no competitions this season, future contracts are up in the air, myself included as I’m in my contract year.

“Also, I am not sure how companies who usually sponsor athletes will view sponsorship in a season with no meets. Another source of financial support is the Elite Athlete Assistance Programme, but with the likelihood of no competitions this season, and more importantly no Olympics, I am not sure if that assistance is forthcoming. Overall, all athletes will be affected in a similar manner.”

Bledman is based in Florida, USA, where he trains with the Pure Athletics club.

“Up until the decision was made to shut down certain places, I was training at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida. Now, my training camp has moved to a nearby park. Adjustments to the track programme had to be made because of the present facilities available. We recently were able to get access to the use of some gym equipment as we were previously utilising free weights.”

Bledman said that having an additional year to prepare for the Olympics will not necessarily translate into being better prepared.

“Track is unpredictable, meaning an athlete may have a great season in one year or one good race in the whole season. Or he/she may not have a good season at all for a year or more despite being in the best shape of their life. It is just unpredictable,” Bledman ended, “but I will use the additional time to work on and improve my weaker areas.”

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