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‘I’m preparing for them as if they are going to go ahead’ - McKinna on Tokyo 2020 Olympics uncertainty

Sophie McKinna insists she will be ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite the uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

Sophie McKinna insists she will be ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite the uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Great Yarmouth shot putter Sophie McKinna insists athletes must “stay ready” despite the uncertainty over whether the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go ahead as planned.

Sophie McKinna reacts during the Women's Shot Put during day two of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships at Emirates Arena, Glasgow.Sophie McKinna reacts during the Women's Shot Put during day two of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships at Emirates Arena, Glasgow.

There are doubts over whether the Games will go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic although Japanese officials maintain they are confident they can take place on the original dates of July 24-August 9.

That has prompted criticism from some athletes, who argue they are unable to get the training in necessary to prepare properly due to the restrictions over COVID-19. However, McKinna is adapting her training programme to ensure she can go to the Games in the best possible shape, if they go ahead.

“At this stage they are telling us that they are determined for the Games to go ahead,” said McKinna, who threw a new personal best of 18.61m at the World Championships in Doha last year before finishing 11th in the final. “It’s such a shame because the competitions leading up to the games have been so messed about but we have to stay ready.

“At the moment the Games look to still be on and I’m preparing for them as if they are going to go ahead.”

Great Britain's Sophie McKinna competes in the Women's Shot Put Final during day seven of the IAAF World Championships at The Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar. Picture: PAGreat Britain's Sophie McKinna competes in the Women's Shot Put Final during day seven of the IAAF World Championships at The Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar. Picture: PA

McKinna, who trains regularly at the Wellesley in Yarmouth, admitted she is making plans to ensure her training isn’t too interrupted if that facility closes down due to the virus.

“I’ve been busy organising my own gym,” she added. “I’ve got a portable indoor circle so I can do a lot of good work on that.

“It’s just all quite confusing for everyone but it’s the same for everybody. We’ve all just got to try and adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in.

“It’s a very hard situation. If I think with my heart I desperately want the Games to go ahead and go and put on a great performance. On the other hand I understand the reservations of both the athletes themselves and supporters that want to go and watch.

Sophie McKinna celebrates winning the women's Shot Put during day two of the SPAR British Athletic Indoor Championships at Arena Birmingham. Picture: PASophie McKinna celebrates winning the women's Shot Put during day two of the SPAR British Athletic Indoor Championships at Arena Birmingham. Picture: PA

“With the amount of people that will head to Tokyo I understand it could become a breeding ground for a virus.

“Even in the athletes’ village there is always a sickness bug or something that goes through because we’re all in such close proximity so I can see it from both sides.”

Ankle injury almost ruined Sophie’s Olympic dreams

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Sophie McKinna’s Olympic year was almost over before it had properly begun.

The Great Yarmouth shot putter, 25, was warming up on around the athletics track in Lea Valley when she thought disaster struck.

“I turned my ankle just jogging up the incline at the track and sprained a couple of the ligaments,” said McKinna.

“At the time I thought I had broken it. I knew it was a bit different – you know when you’ve done something more serious like that and straight away I said ‘I’ve broken it’.

“But I’ve been lucky because I’ve recovered really quickly. I’m pretty much back to training as normal now and I was really well looked after by GB Athletics.”

McKinna turned down a place on the British Athletics’ world class programme and £15,000 worth of funding to continue her career as a custody detention officer at Norfolk Police’s Investigation Centre in Great Yarmouth.

Her 11th-placed performance at the World Championships in Doha meant she was going into the year full of optimism but before her ankle drama, she also suffered a perforated ear drum earlier this year, which caused her problems in competitions.

“The year didn’t get off to a great start really,” she said.

“I had a flu-like illness and ended up perforating my ear drum which meant that I couldn’t balance properly. Competition wasn’t fantastic as a result as I couldn’t get a good spring on turning. Now that I’m better I know what I’m capable of.”

Doubts remain over if the Tokyo Olympics can go ahead as planned later this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic but McKinna is at least in the fortunate position of knowing she is all but going to Japan, whenever that may be.

“I’m lucky in that sense as I’ve already done what I needed to do to get there,” she said.

“I’ve thrown the qualifying distance (18.50m) and then the other criteria is to finish in the top two at the (Team GB) trials. We aren’t going to know if they are going to go ahead at this stage.

“But by having the qualifying distance already it means I don’t have to go chasing it at an event somewhere.

“A lot of athletes aren’t fortunate enough to be in that position.”


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