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Veteran Canadian athletes' plans changed by Tokyo 2020 postponement

The postponement of the Tokyo Games has forced many Canadian athletes to rethink the carefully structured training regimes they were following to prepare for the Olympics.

Several athletes were pondering whether to retire after summer Olympics

Gold medallist Rosie MacLennan of Canada reacts after winning the women's trampoline final at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

The postponement of the Tokyo Games has forced many Canadian athletes to rethink the carefully structured training regimes they were following to prepare for the Olympics.

Pushing the Olympics back a year due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic has also blown up the plans many older athletes made for after the Games.

Rugby sevens player Karen Paquin had planned to move back to Quebec from Langford, B.C., after the Olympics and live in the house she and her husband recently purchased.

"My whole plan got basically thrown down the garbage," said Paquin, 32, a member of the Canadian team that won a bronze medal four years ago in Rio. "I had a few discussions with my partner. We decided that we are going to make it work one way or the other."

WATCH | Some Canadian athletes' future in doubt due to Tokyo 2020 postponement:

CBC Sports' Scott Russell says the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics could jeopardize careers of some of Canada's older athletes. 5:57

Rosie MacLennan, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in trampoline, was going to give herself some "time and space" after the Games to decide if she would continue competing or maybe retire, begin a career or possibly start a family.

MacLennan now will have those decisions made prior to the Olympics opening on July 23, 2021.

"For me, I think it really just reorganizes when I do what," said MacLennan, who turns 32 in August. "So rather than putting off everything for another year, I do want to try put something in place for after Tokyo. Exactly what that might be, I'm not entirely sure.

"I've looked into different options and have some ideas. But we'll take the time now to kind of explore and research those different ideas and kind of work backwards from where I want to get to and kind of put the steps in place to create a path there."

Delaying the Games means swimmer Brent Hayden will spend another year living with his mother-in-law in New Westminster, B.C.

Hayden, 36, and his wife had rented out their Vancouver home last year prior to travelling to Lebanon. It was during that trip the 100-metre bronze medallist at the 2012 London Games decided to come out of retirement.

"We were planning after Tokyo that we would move back in," said Hayden, "But now, with everything going on, we probably need to extend that lease for our tenants and continue living with my mother-in-law."

Hayden has swam a time of 49.46 seconds in the 50-m freestyle, good enough to earn him a spot at Swimming Canada's Olympic trials. He believes an extra year of training will help him lower that time and sharpen his racing skills.

"I'm just going to use it to my advantage," he said. "I'm not worried about being a year older because, as far as I can tell, I'm getting better at my age."

Paquin will spend the winter doing renovations on her home with her husband before returning to B.C. to train. After the Olympics she hopes to join the women's 15 team and play at the women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand which begins Sept. 18, 2021.

"Hopefully I'll be selected," she said. "I don't know how it's going to go with such a short amount of time (after) the Olympics."

The Olympic delay may have some athletes considering retirement, but Frank van den Berg, the lead mental performance professional at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary cautioned against "jumping to a conclusion."

"There may be a time in the next month or two months in which that is a much better time to see what the reality is at that point before you make those decisions," he said.

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