IRELAND’S most experienced hockey player Shirley McCay is going to have to wait another year to fulfil her dream of playing in the Olympic Games.
The Olympics were scheduled to take place in Tokyo this summer but due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic were officially postponed yesterday (Wednesday) until 2021.
Earlier this week Britain’s most senior Olympic official Lord Sebastian Coe had urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to call the games off. He said it was “neither feasible of desirable” to stage the Games in Tokyo this year.
“No-one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the events at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety and a decision on the Olympic Games must become very obvious very quickly,” he said.
“I believe the time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can.”
At that stage Canada had already pulled out of the Games and a number of other countries hinted they will follow suit.
Ireland’s most capped international McCay, who starred in the 2018 World Cup in London, said postponement was inevitable.
“We were hearing different stories every day and a few nations have already made it clear that they will not be sending their teams regardless if it went ahead this summer,” said the Drumquin woman.
“The expectation was that the Games would be postponed. People’s safety is obviously paramount and there is no point postponing for a couple of months and then postponing them again.
“It’s uncertain times and I suppose the Games is the least of people’s worries. We should have been in South Africa right now taking part in a test series in preparation for Tokyo but due to spread of Covid-19 that trip was shelved at the last minute.”
Instead the Irish players are following individual running programmes and home based gym sessions to maintain levels of fitness until such times as they can return to then training pitch.
McCay admitted it was a frustrating time for all concerned.
“We are doing the best we can in the circumstances, to make the most of what we are allowed to do within reason,” she continued.
“Obviously that’s not ideal but everyone is in the same boat. When people’s lives are at risk there is nothing more important.
“We were due to fly out to South Africa on March 16 but two days before that the decision was taken not to travel.
“That has proved the right one given that in terms of travel South Africa is in lock down. I’m glad we made that decision, that everyone is safe and closer to home as opposed to being on the other side of the world.”
By the time the Olympics now come around, McCay, who has been capped more than 300 times for Ireland, will have turned 32 with a few more miles on the clock.
Despite being another year older, the Ulster Herald Hall of Fame inductee in 2019 is still very much up for the challenge.
“I’m trying not to think too much about that right now, yeah it’s not ideal. Listen whatever will be will be, at the moment it’s a matter of waiting to see.”