Trois-Rivières – No one fell from their chair in the national canoeing team on Saturday evening when the federation announced the cancellation of the national trials scheduled for Georgia from April 16 to 19.
T he athletes from across the country who were hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games have gathered in Florida since the start of winter. Like the others, they followed the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. All these stops in sports activities around them suggested that their turn was coming.
“For the past few days, we suspected that the news would fall. There is a mixture of discouragement and relief within the team. There had been some stress to deal with for a little while. Now all we know is that we have to go home. We are all waiting, ”said Mathieu Pelletier, one of the national team’s coaches.
The Trifluvian recognizes that disappointment is more difficult for some. We obviously think straight away of world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, engaged in a race against time to deserve her place for the Tokyo Games after having failed an anti-doping test this summer. The Trifluvienne had to stay away from the national team for months, the time to be whitewashed in January. “Its current level was pretty close to optimal. It was not yet at the top, which is normal at this time of year, but it was coming. In terms of hockey, Laurence ate the tapes in training. If I had had to bet my money on qualifications, I would have bet on it, ”says Pelletier. “She is not the only one from the club who was doing well in Florida. Andréanne (Langlois) was well positioned, Vincent (Jourdenais), Dominik (Crête) and Laurent (Lavigne) were also in great shape. Everyone is in the same boat: they must all come back, quarantine for 14 days and find a way to keep fit at home, alone. ”
Pelletier hopes that the federation will be able to announce his plan for the next few months within a few days, to reassure everyone. He predicts that the national trials in Montreal in late June will now become the gateway to the Games. “Obviously I have no decision-making power, but that is what makes the most sense. As for continental qualifications, there are several possible scenarios. Internationally, they can, for example, base themselves on last year’s results, ”notes the coach of the Trois-Rivières Canoe-Kayak Club (CKTR), who still believes that the Tokyo Games will have location. “There are worried people, that’s for sure. There are rumors. But in my case, I tell myself that we are probably moving towards a relocation of the Games in the fall.
With this in mind, a return home is not ideal. Especially in Trois-Rivières, where it will be impossible to go on the water for a few more weeks. “Normally, we go on the water at the end of March, or at the beginning of April. If that’s it, it’s not that bad. In the meantime, the athletes will be doing a lot of running, ”smiles Pelletier. “No way to go to the gyms, anyway. Even after quarantine, I doubt it would be appropriate. Here in Florida, we had already cut that. There are precautions to take right now. ”
At the time of the interview, Sunday morning, the athletes were preparing for their return. Some return by car, others by plane. For coaches, who have to deal with equipment management in addition, the puzzle is more complex. Pelletier will not be able to go home for several days. “There is a logistics to set up, it is correct. Our efforts are ironing there over the next few days, and then we can come back. ”