OLDS — Local discus thrower Rachel Andres is hopeful she’ll be able to qualify for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo via some upcoming meets this spring.
After being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, currently, the Summer Olympics are slated to occur July 23 - Aug. 8 this year.
Andres says she’s pretty confident the Olympics will be held this summer, despite surging COVID-19 cases in Japan and around the world.
“I’m 95 per cent sure they’re going to have it,” Andres said during an interview, noting the International Olympic Committee sent her and other Canadian athletes a 50-page document outlining procedures to keep everyone safe.
Andres needs to attend at least four meets between now and the qualifying cut-off at the end of June. Indications are that she may be able to attend meets on April 21, as well as April 24 and 25.
She’s hoping to hit or exceed the automatic Olympic qualifying distance of 63.50 metres (m).
Going into a meet on April 1, Andres was pretty optimistic she’d hit that mark.
“Last season I threw 58, seven weeks after the end of my season should have been, so I was past peak. So throwing 58 at that point in time was really good, and I’ve been hitting quite big marks in practice,” she said.
Unfortunately, she was faced that night with a headwind of 72 kilometres an hour (km/h).
“So those plans went up in smoke. Just did my best to fight the conditions and stay upright in the wind,” Andres wrote in an email.
“(I) managed a 54.66 m throw which is my best starting throw for the beginning of the season and done in terrible conditions.”
She attended a couple of other meets, including one on April 4 when again, the wind was strong – about 42 km/h. And it was cold.
Despite those conditions, Andres threw 56.50 m on her last throw, which she described as "the best throw of the weekend,” earning her that position as number 1 in Canada.
Currently, plans call for no spectators at the Olympics. Assuming she does qualify, Andres was asked if she’d be disappointed by seats devoid of spectators.
“No, not for me,” she said. “Honestly, most of my competitions my whole life have rarely had anybody anyway.
“So I mean, it’s going to be televised and three’s still going to be the feel of it being a big scale with all the security and the television cameras pointed at you so I don’t think not having the big family is going to make much of a difference for me personally.
“Other Olympians feel differently about it, but for me, I’d just be happy to be there on the big stage, whether or not there’s spectators.”
She says she’s fine with new Olympic athlete wear, which have been panned by some critics.
“It’s a throwback to '90’s fashion, which I thought was cool in the '90s.
“The design on the jackets is more from the early 2000’s and would have fit well into my personal graphic design style in that era. It’s a nice nod to multiple years of fashion and design.
“Jean jackets may not be height of fashion or what most athletes would like to wear, but it’s something fun and likely to be remembered because of the controversy around them; which honestly may have been the intent of the designers in the first place.”