Going for gold

Grace Hedlund

More stories from Grace Hedlund

Stepping up to plate
October 1, 2021
Going for gold

With their fingers crossed and hearts racing, Americans cheered on the USA Olympians who were miles away from the comfort of their homes. Athletes finally got the opportunity to represent their country competing in sports. 

The Olympics were originally set to start on July 24, 2020, but the games were pushed back a year due to the pandemic and began July 23, 2021. For many Olympians, this was crushing news; the athletes have trained for almost the entirety of their lives to make it to the Olympic Games. When athletes heard that their hard work was being put off, several questioned whether to continue competing. For a few sports, the competitors’ spots on the team transferred over, but many had to re-compete in the Olympic Trials. Simon Biles, according to The Wrap, debated quitting if they canceled the 2020 Olympics. 

Obviously it was the right decision, but to have it finalized—in a way, you feel defeated because you’ve worked so hard,” Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast, said in a Vogue interview. 

The pandemic introduced the challenge of how the athletes were going to continue training. Gyms were shut down, and soon afterward, pools and training facilities followed. Because of this, athletes had to adapt to their situations. A beach volleyball player tied a net to a tree in her backyard to continue preparing for the games. Swimmers searched for house pools or ponds to practice. 

“During the lockdown, I went on runs and participated in zoom meetings for team workouts. I am sure that they [Olympians] felt a lot of pressure to stay in top form during the pandemic as well,” Bella Postel, sophomore, said. 

Despite the challenges, the U.S. Olympians managed to compete above and beyond. At only 13 years old, Sky Brown competed in the new skateboarding event. Sunisa Lee, gymnast, won gold for the all-around competition at 18 years old. Caeleb Dressel, 25, broke the Olympic record and won gold in the Men’s 100m Butterfly Final.   

“You’re always capable of doing something great, it just might be a little bit harder and that’s totally fine. You don’t know what you’re gonna get until you dive in. That’s what makes this sport really fun,” Caeleb Dressel, Olympic swimmer, said in a USA Today interview. 

Even though many obstacles were thrown at the athletes, their hard work paid off, and the U.S. Olympic Team brought home the most gold medals from the Tokyo Olympics.