“I was training in the sea”: Alice Tai MBE on how the pandemic has affected the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics

Pictured: Alice TaiParalympian athlete Alice Tai

The onset of a second national lockdown has meant that lockdown is again affecting the sports industry. As a result, athletes training for the Olympics have had to overcome the various obstacles in order to continue to be able to compete.

This year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed due to the pandemic. However, the Japanese government are eager to restart the Olympics.

Paralympic champion Alice Tai explained her own experience with training during the lockdown.

‘’Although I feel this year we haven’t progressed the movement as much as we could’ve without the pandemic, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think Paralympic athletes have shown their versatility and have really been able to explore themselves as athletes and find things which make them even better in their personal sports which is exciting.’’

However, Alice admits that there has also been a negative impact on sports posed by the pandemic, such as low morale. Practically, swimming pools had also closed in the previous lockdown and closed again this Thursday.

“As a swimmer, obviously one of the crucial things we need is a pool and with lockdown they’re all closed. I’m really fortunate that my parents live by the sea and I came home for lockdown. I was training in the sea most days when the weather was good enough. I started doing some Zoom sessions with the rowing squad so it wasn’t so bad.’’

Alice Tai began swimming at the age of 9 and has since won several gold medals as well as acquiring a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for fastest 50 m freestyle swim by a female S8 athlete is 28.97 seconds.

‘’It’s hard training by yourself especially on the days where you don’t feel motivated; it can be really soul-destroying when you have to do a session and you know no one’s really there to just push you a bit more.’’

However, Alice explains she partially overcame this feat by setting up a group chat with Paralympian athletes across various disciplines.

‘’Whenever we needed to train we’d drop a message onto the chat to see if anyone wanted to join us via zoom and it just kind of kept that team atmosphere.’’

Alice Tai looks forward to competing again in Tokyo 2021, and hopes to yield more gold medals.

Photo by Simone Barlaam.

About the Author

Hadiyah Ilyas and Mia Eden
Hadiyah and Mia are journalists for LeedsHacks.

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