Olympic postponement one more obstacle for resilient Canadian athlete to overcome
Softball player Sara Groenewegen was gearing up for the Tokyo Games after battling legionnaires' disease
Earlier this month, when Canada's Women's Softball Team held training camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, Sara Groenewegen was in peak form and her teammates were in phenomenal shape.
With softball back in the Olympics for the first time since 2008, Canada — the number three ranked team in the world — was gearing up to challenge powerhouse nations Japan and the United States for the top spot on the podium.
As camp wrapped up, however, sports around the world began to postpone their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic and less than two weeks later, the International Olympic Committee announced the Tokyo Games will be postponed until sometime in 2021.
"As softball players, it's difficult news to hear," Groenewegen said.
"But in the grand scheme of life, health is way more important than sport."
Groenewegen, 24, appreciates her health more than most.
In 2018, a form of pneumonia known as legionnaires' disease left her in a medically induced coma and doctors were unsure whether Groenewegen would survive.
A year later, after working relentlessly to get her strength back, Groenewegen was back on the mound at Softball City in her hometown of south Surrey, helping Team Canada qualify for the Olympics.
"It's been an unreal rollercoaster," she said.
"We all face our adversities but I'm just really proud of where I am today."
Training at home
Soon after Groenewegen returned from training camp, health officials introduced strict social-distancing measures and gyms were closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With no fitness equipment at home, Groenewegen asked a Facebook community group if anyone had weights she could borrow.
"It's crazy right?" she said, laughing.
"I wrote, 'Hi, I'm Sara, I'm training for the Olympics, and I need help."
Neighbours dropped off some dumbbells a couple of days later, so her workouts now consist of basic weight training and running outside.
"The team says to take this time when we're all at home to back off training for a little bit," she said.
"Just be a normal citizen and be with your families."
The International Olympic Committee said the Tokyo Games must be held no later than the summer of 2021, but it's unclear when an official date will be set.
Groenewegen says the delay is disappointing, especially for the veterans on the team who have been waiting since 2008 for a chance to play in the Olympics, but she believes postponing the Games is the right decision.
"We've waited 12 years, so we can wait for another one," she said.
"I'm fine with Tokyo 2021 as long as we're all healthy and ready to compete."
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