Covid-19, ironically, keeps Roland’s Olympic dream alive

Roland Schoeman in the Men 50m LC freestyle heat during day 6 of the SA National Aquatic Championships 2016 at Kings Park Aquatic Centre on April 15, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Had the Tokyo showpiece gone ahead, the 39-year-old’s dream would’ve probably been over. Now, ‘nature’ has intervened.

While many elite athletes have voiced their frustration this week, following the announcement that the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed, the generally unwelcome delay has extended a lifeline for embattled swimmer Roland Schoeman.

With the 2020 Games being suspended until next year due to coronavirus fears, a previously shut door swung open for Schoeman, who admitted he could see a silver lining in what was otherwise a challenging situation.

“This year I’ve come to understand that things happen for us,” the veteran freestyle ace posted in a statement.

ALSO READ: I’m no cheat, insists Schoeman

“They show us where we need the most amount of growth.”

The 39-year-old Schoeman, who earned three medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was serving a 12-month ban after he tested positive for a prohibited substance last year.

And while his suspension was set to be lifted on 17 May, he would have been sidelined from next month’s national swimming trials for the Tokyo Games, which had also been indefinitely postponed.

With a new schedule expected to be released in the build-up to the delayed multi-sport showpiece, Schoeman was likely to be cleared to compete at the SA trials, which would give him a chance of targeting a record fifth appearance at the quadrennial Games.

Schoeman was not alone, however, and some other podium contenders could also make use of the additional time they had been given to prepare for the global spectacle.

They included four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos, who had battled through a groin hernia to earn two bronze medals at last year’s World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, and defending 400m track champion Wayde van Niekerk, still on the comeback trail from injury.

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