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Olympic star Shona McCallin looks to positives of 2020 Tokyo Games postponement

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin plans to take full advantage of the postponement of the Tokyo games, saying her best is yet to come after a 17-month injury lay-off from hockey.

The Dry Doddington star, who began her career at Newark Hockey Club, was training to begin the defence of Team GB’s Olympic gold medal status, but the 2020 games have since been pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

McCallin had recovered from a long battle with concussion, which, at one point, saw her fear for her career. She expressed her delight having returned to the game, before playing a big part in GB’s qualification as they ran out 5-1 aggregate winners over Chile.

FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019 (32771131)
FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019 (32771131)

“For me, it isn’t the end of world,” said McCallin, who said she agreed with the committee’s decision to delay the games.

“I wasn’t back to my best and I knew I could get better, get fitter and be sharper.

“It is another year of hockey having missed a lot.

FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019 (32742937)
FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019 (32742937)

“I don’t want to push myself too hard right now, but I want to be in a good position to reach my best for when we do go back.

“The way I look at it is we have another year to improve as a team and as individuals, and we definitely were improving before the coronavirus halted everything.

“We have a fairly young squad and have had our head coach in place for a year now, and it takes time for teams to gel, but it is the same for everybody.”

McCallin suffered a concussion in a match against Argentina after a clashing with an opponent’s shoulder.

At 27, she should, on paper, be approaching her peak years in the sport.

“Some teams and players will have mentally prepared themselves for the summer, but now we have to reset and get ready for when the time comes,” McCallin said.

“For a lot of athletes there is a lot of anxiety around training so hard to get in to this position for it be wasted, but you have to look at it as a whole and realise that everybody is in the same position.

“Some may have been pushing themselves for their final year as a hockey player, a triathlete or whatever that sport might be, and it is a bigger mental and physical challenge in that sense.

“It is an unknown and nobody likes that.”

While other sporting events were being called off in the lead up to a lockdown in England and, ultimately, around the world, the International Olympic Committee were delaying their decision, before finally making the announcement on Tuesday, March 24.

Team GB were training in the weeks up to that decision, but because of social distancing rules were forced to rightly train from the safety of their homes.

“Before the Olympics got called off we were still trying to train as much as we could and stick to our schedules,” said McCallin.

“That involved doing mostly home gym workouts and it was a challenge to get it done, but now it has been officially called off, we can relax our training a bit — we don’t have to follow a strict guideline.

“There isn’t anything structured for us, it is down to ourselves now, and most of us aren’t going to go from training seven times a week to nothing, so we will continue to train.

“It could be going out for a run or using a home gym, but for me, I am trying to keep as active as possible given the circumstances for both my physical and mental well-being.”

McCallin was also full of praise for the Olympic committee, who quickly announced a new date, which she said gave her a new goal to work towards.

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