How This Olympic Hopeful Is Dealing With the Tokyo Games Delay

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021, the coronavirus crisis has put the dreams of many an athlete on hold, including Brooks-backed middle-distance runner Drew Windle.

The Ohio native, who signed with the brand in 2016, had been training for a chance to win gold in Tokyo at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Ore., in June. His event is the 800 meters.

Windle, who is living and training in Seattle with some of his teammates, is a standout in the track and field world. The 27-year-old athlete’s most notable accolade to date is winning the silver medal at the 2018 World Indoor Championships in the U.K.

Here, Windle discusses how he’s navigating the hurdles the delayed Olympics have raised.

Footwear News: Are you in favor of the IOC’s decision to postpone the Olympics? Or would you have preferred that the games go on as scheduled?

Drew Windle: “With so much uncertainty it makes sense to postpone it for the time being. I’m sure there are lots of people who disagree. But nobody really has a perfect buildup, so if things were shaken at any point this year, those people are probably glad that they have more time [to prepare]. If you’re in your 30s, you probably would rather have it this year, but with how contagious this coronavirus is and everything it’s just better for everybody to stay home to see this thing out. And once it’s figured out, we can move on with a concrete plan.”

How does this affect your training and competing schedule?

DW: “We got the news and it didn’t really help. Just because there’s no Olympics this year doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be track meets this summer or leading into the fall now, so there are still a lot of questions like, When is the next time we’re going to race? I’m trying to decide if I should go back home to Columbus, Ohio, and be with my family or be here [in Seattle] and train with my teammates on the chance that there are some bigger races this summer. It’s tough. Also, with Washington doing the full shutdown, we don’t have access to tracks or anything like that. My roommates and I did 150s [sprints], which would typically be all-out speed-wise on the track, but we had to get creative and do it on the road. We don’t have a measuring wheel or anything so it’s guessing how long 150 meters is. And we don’t have access to gyms, so everything is out of whack right now.”

What sneakers are you lacing up for training in the meantime?

DW: “The same shoes I normally use. I do most of my running in Ghosts. And since I’ve had to do my workouts on the road I’ve been wearing the new Hyperion Tempo. Those are pretty much the two shoes I’m rotating with right now.”

How will you adjust your training to get ready for the games that are now a year away?

DW: “I’m glad I have [Brooks Beasts Track Club head coach] Danny Mackey as my coach because he can think of that for me. In an Olympic year, the stakes are so much higher, but I’d say generally it’s a mistake to try to change too much. It’ll be just business as usual, or as usual as it can be. I think our team’s plan is [that] we’ll be on our own to train like we are going to race this summer, and if they decide to cancel everything or the shutdown extends nationwide, at that point we’ll sit down, have another discussion and maybe take some time off and start all over. It’s a unique situation where you can evaluate how you prepared the first six months of this Olympic year, and you’ll get another shot at it next year and be able to tweak those things and try to nail them next year.”

What has the dialogue been like with Brooks during your training process and throughout the coronavirus crisis?

DW: “Danny is kind of our gatekeeper. He’s been doing multiple meetings a day with them and relaying what we need to know. [Brooks has] a lot of questions, too, about what’s going on. But I’m glad I’m a Brooks athlete in this time, especially being in Seattle right where the headquarters are. We’re not numbers on a chart that get plugged into an algorithm to figure out who gets a contract next year or not. We are a part of marketing and there are expectations attached to our job but there’s definitely a human element that Brooks has. They’re taking into account the situation. None of us can control what’s going on right now, so it’s good to be a part of a company that values you as not just an athlete but also a human being. Brooks has our best interests now and going forward, and they’re going to keep looking out for us and making sure we’re taken care of.”

What steps were taken by the IOC and the USOC to ensure athlete safety?

DW: “[The USOC] advocated for postponement of the Olympics; that’s about all they could do. The USOC asked for postponement and all you need is Canadian athletics or British athletics to jump on board because if you have a couple powerhouses in the world saying, ‘You can’t host this,’ the IOC’s hands are going to be tied. They’re going to have to decide to postpone it.”

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