Over the next year we will be bringing you guest blogs from the Tokyo 2020 selected athletes who will give you an insight in to their lives in the run up to the Olympic Games – first up, 470 helm Luke Patience.
Where do I begin? Well I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s been a crazy few months!
Palma is probably a good starting point and frame of reference as that’s when things really started to change for me. I was in Palma with Twiggy (Chris Grube) gearing up towards a Worlds, Europeans and the Princess Sofia when everything just kicked off.
Spain was starting to go in to lockdown and things happened very quickly. So from preparing for a regatta to having to leave an island in the blink of an eye was something I’ve never experienced before. Having to flee a country before being shut in isn’t something you say every day.
When I got back to the UK I was in Southampton and we thought we could keep on training even in a lockdown situation but as everything developed the choices became more and more reactive.
The UK was starting to move toward a full lockdown and on the water training looked like it wasn’t going to be allowed so I made the decision to head back home to Scotland. Looking at things realistically, where I’m from in Tiree on the West coast of Scotland seemed like the natural choice as my family are there – and to be honest social distancing is just a way of life anyway – you hardly see anyone anyway on a normal day to day basis, nevermind in a lock down situation. So it seemed ideal.
Looking back I thought I was going home for a couple of weeks, maybe three tops, to see how the dust settled but seeing the news every day and how other countries were expanding lockdowns for another three weeks to a month, and when you see the infection rates increasing, that’s when it really hit me that I’m not going south for quite a while here.
It was a stressful time. You start making plans for the next week, then that would change, so you plan the next week. It became apparent pretty quickly that making any sort of immediate plan was just futile. At that point I knew I just had to enjoy the moment and wait it all out.
I’m in a privileged position being from Tiree. It’s a beautiful place with the sea and beaches on your doorstep so I did a lot of fishing. I did a ton of exercise – I mean a lot. I hung out with the parents and the dog and just tried to relax.
It also gave me a lot of time to think. If the world had carried on as normal I would have been doing a load of sailing. Competitions in Palma. Training camps in Japan and obviously the Olympic Games.
Thinking about an Olympic Games stirs up so much and so many possibly scenarios. When regattas started getting cancelled and the Games were still going ahead I think I may have actually welcomed it. Games time is so manic and to have some of the madness taken away could have benefitted us. The prep is all in your mind and I would have been fine with that.
Then the announcement came – the Games were postponed. On hearing the news I think I went through the typical cycle that everyone has on hearing some shocking news. You know the one – a bit of anger, then frustration, then acceptance. I guess that goes to show how hard the news hit home and the magnitude and impact of it I guess that I followed that cycle.
Working towards a certain point in time every four years you start to question if you can do another intense year – because it is intense. But sitting back and thinking about it I think this year is definitely a good thing for me and Twiggy. We have the opportunity to work on some more things and now it has sunk in it is a great thing for us. That definitely completed the full emotional cycle for me. Acceptance.
Something this postponement has done has really reignited my love for the Olympics. I know it will only be my third but you kind of try and takes things in your stride – but now being part of something which is already very special and adding in the uniqueness of a postponement just makes the greatest show on Earth even more special for me.
This Olympics really has the potential to be the best in history because I feel the world just needs it. It needs something to be excited about and the Olympics is perfect for that.
As for the year to go or the original start date for the Olympics – me and Twiggy will probably mark the occasion with a cheeky wee whisky and a zoom call with our coach Morgan in the US.
For the immediate future there will be a lot of training in Weymouth before heading back to Palma, which kind of rounds things off perfectly. Heading back to a place for a competition where six months earlier the world changed and we had to leave pretty quickly. I’m hoping that cycle closing will mark the return of normality.
As for the longer term future – the plan is to carry on and give 100% towards 2021 and the Olympic Games. I have to work like, and I do believe, the Games will be on and I want to be in a good position when it starts. It’s a special event and it will be even more special in a year’s time.