Nine months before the Olympic and Paralympic Games, anxiety is growing among athletes who normally train at the PEPS of Laval University in the company of specialists from Excellence sportive Québec-Lévis (ESQL) which ironically celebrates its 20th anniversary.
There are about thirty athletes who are preparing for the Summer Games in Tokyo and the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022. Since the National Capital fell into the red zone, their preparation has been seriously disrupted by the closure gyms unlike the athletes who train at the National Sports Institute (INS). The organization obtained an exemption from Public Health in order to maintain its activities.
With the exception of swimmers who have access to periods of free swimming without the supervision of their coach, the other athletes have been confined to the home for their training since the decree which bans organized sport until October 28.
“For our sport, there are big consequences for athletes to train without the supervision of their physical trainer,” explains the head coach of the men’s national kayak team Frédéric Jobin. I’m super happy that INS athletes have access to their facilities. If it works for Montreal, it goes without saying for Quebec. We have to find a solution. I don’t have the answer, but I wonder if every effort has been made to reopen the PEPS training room. Did the INS really fight for us? “
Open in Montreal
“I really thought things were going to change in the last two weeks, but nothing has changed,” Jobin continued. It is logical that Montreal is open, but it is illogical that Quebec is closed. ”
“It is unacceptable that athletes do not have access to a training hall within a year of the Olympic Games. It’s their job to train and take away the most important part of their preparation. I do not understand. ”
“In other countries and provinces, athletes have access to their training hall. This is a disadvantage for our athletes. “
On the side of the INS, it is ensured that the channel of communication with the Ministry of Education and Public Health remains open despite the negative response to relax restrictions for athletes preparing for the Olympics.
“We continue to make our arguments that a greater resumption of activities is essential in the preparation of athletes for the Olympic Games and there is nothing to indicate that this will not happen,” said Director of Communications and Marketing Jean Gosselin . The question is, what will resume and when? We are the first to regret this decision. “
“You have to understand that the privilege granted to the INS is linked to the building and to our way of managing health measures,” continues Gosselin. We have a medical clinic attached to the center, a full-time doctor on site and no external clientele has access to our premises. According to Public Health, our operation and our structure resemble a hospital center. “
In Montreal, athletes who were training elsewhere than at the INS when the training halls closed are not allowed to seek refuge there.
“Athletes from Montreal wanted to join us, but the exemption we received stipulates that we must keep the same volume of activity as before the cessation of organized sport. “
Quadruple medalist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Aurélie Rivard has to train during the free swimming periods without the supervision of her coach in her preparation for the Tokyo Games.
“There are definitely worse scenarios, but it’s not ideal in this Olympic year and it’s a bit frustrating,” says Rivard. I’m dealing with it for now, but I’m going to need long term teammates and also some supervision. It’s more motivating and more fun, especially since I moved to Quebec primarily for the coach [Marc-André Pelletier]. I can go until October 28, but we will look at the options if there is no change. “
Ironically, the youngsters in swimming sports studies continue to train with their coach.
“I am in a corridor without a coach and in the other corridor, we find a young sports-studies student with his coach, says Rivard who trained at the INS in Montreal before moving to Quebec last spring. It’s normal that young people can continue to move, but I do not understand why we are not entitled to the presence of our coach. “
Marc-André Pelletier agrees. “Even 100 meters from our athlete, we can’t be there,” deplores the CNQ coach. I understand that Public Health does not want gatherings around the painting, but we could use the technology without looking like a criminal. I hope it doesn’t stretch too much, because we’ll have to go out of the lap at some point. If it was possible to prepare optimally on your own, there would be no coach, but that is not the case. Top athletes are the people who pay the most attention because they don’t want to waste a day or two of training. It is difficult to understand. There were zero outbreaks in aquatic environments. “
Having decided to skip a training camp in Victoria in November because he thought he could train in Quebec, kayaker Pierre-Luc Poulin is worried.
“If the gyms aren’t open, I’m going to miss my bet,” he says. I knew I would be able to train for PEPS, but I am no longer. This is a really big deal because weight training is the priority. If you are unable to lift 170 kg in winter, it will be impossible to achieve a time of 34 seconds over 200 m in summer. At home, I cannot push the machine as desired because I do not have the necessary weights. I put 15 years of effort into a dream, and it would be boring to miss the Olympics for that. “