South African sprint canoeist Chrisjan Coetzee has tried to keep as normal a training schedule as possible despite the Covid-19 lockdown preventing him from getting on the water.
Coetzee’s year started with a focus on the Olympic Qualifying event that would have been a last chance for him to book a spot at the Tokyo Olympics that were scheduled for later this year, however when the Olympics were postponed he had to realign his goals.
‘I have been working hard to try and keep up a decent fitness level over these last seven weeks,’ Coetzee said. ‘I am fortunate enough to have an ergo machine so I can do simulated paddling at home and I have some gym equipment so I am staying fit despite not being able to be out on the water.’
May was the month where Coetzee would know if he had qualified for his first Olympic Games, but despite the shift in dates Coetzee remains positive about his prospects.
‘I guess with everything moving out a year that means that we have another year to prepare for the qualifying event. That’s going to give me another opportunity to make sure that I am in the best possible shape for the Olympic qualifying event,’ he said.
‘One of the other interesting developments is that this period is almost a reset for everyone around the world which relieves a bit of the pressure I think.’
There is another international event scheduled for later in the year with the Non-Olympic Sprint World Championships still on the cards for September, this has now become Coetzee’s focus.
‘It has been tough training without knowing what you are training for but I have now set my sights on the World Champs in September and we all hope that they will still go ahead.
‘I am preparing as if the event is still going ahead and I am working back from that date to give me something to work towards.
‘Despite the long-term vision you still need to just take it day by day and train as hard as you can.
‘It’s exciting that the national championships have not been cancelled because that’s another event that I can prepare for.’
With the cancellation of so many events due to the Covid-19 shutdown, Coetzee also sees a longer term benefit from having to remain in his bubble.
‘I think that by not racing I am able to lay the building blocks for next year. I am definitely not writing this year off because we still don’t know what is going to happen in the second half of the year!
‘It’s important that I make sure I continue to work hard and control what I can from my own personal point of view,’ he added.
Photo: Supplied/Gameplan Media