The news came just shortly after the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and American Canoe Association (ACA) decided to postpone the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – CanoeSlalom scheduled for May 2-3 and May 8-9 at the RIVERSPORT Rapids in Oklahoma City.
What this means for paddlers — slalom and sprint — is that years of training and traveling for a chance to compete on the world’s biggest stage are being put on hold, for the time being. And who knows who might peak when at the postponed Games.
“As much as everyone knows that this is the right choice to make, it is also a difficult one,” says two-time Olympian and three-time World Cup Champion Scott Shipley, owner of whitewater park company S20 Design. “Athletes who have literally put their lives on hold for four years to pursue this dream are going to have to wait another year.
“It doesn’t seem fair in the midst of all of this pain and suffering to also be sad about this, but it is sad,” he adds. “For some of our greatest champions this was their life and now it, too, is on hold with an uncertain future.
“I think the IOC was wise to take so many factors into account. Our finest athletes were putting themselves at risk even in their day-to-day training. Never mind the risks of gathering together with thousands of other competitors. I think we are all praying for so many things now, I will also pray for those future champions who would never quit who are now being forced to put their dreams on hold for 12 more months.”
The ICF realizes these, and other, concerns.
“These are very difficult and certainly unprecedented times for the entire world, of which canoeing is just one small part of it,” says International Canoe Federation ICF President Jose Perurena. “We want to re-assure all our athletes, coaches, officials, hosts and volunteers that our contingency plans will center around their needs, and what is best for our sport overall. We are also keeping the IOC informed about the situation confronting our athletes, including the lack of competition, the inability to train, and the changing circumstances surrounding the Olympic qualification process.”