NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will begin July 23rd, 2021, the International Olympic Committee announced Monday. A 364-day shift of the Summer Games due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The initial postponement left athletes with a lot of uncertainty about the future of this Olympiad, but for one United States hammer thrower Monday’s announcement provided some much needed direction as he looks forward to making another push towards the Tokyo Games.
“Setting that date provides a focus, because without that you’re just kind of training in a vacuum,” said Joe Frye, who also serves as the throwing coach for Belmont’s Track & Field team. “It’s really, really tough to do anything productive unless you have a goal.”
With the announcement of the new timeline for the Olympics, Frye’s able to refocus his eyes on the target of qualifying first for the U.S. Olympic trials next June, and then ultimately a spot on the American team in Tokyo.
After competing at the U.S. Trials in 2016, Frye trained for the last three and a half years to make one more push for the 2020 Olympics before calling it a career. Then the spread of the Coronavirus brought his plans, and the Olympics themselves, to a halt.
“I mean, legitimate depression just starts hitting you,” Frye said Monday via a Zoom interview. “You look at this 14, 15 year career and it’s all of a sudden like, you just trained three and a half years and you’re not going to be able to put it all on the line.”
Once the Games were postponed, the question was whether or not Frye would want to go through another whole year of training. The decision was complicated by the fact that Frye and his wife are expecting their second child in June.
“At first it was like, ‘I’m not going to be able to do that, I’ve got to hang it up. I can’t hold out for another year and a half,’” Frye said about his early doubts about being able to compete into 2021. “But now I’ve kind of settled back into, ‘you know what, this will be good.’”
Now that the decision has been made, Frye hopes to take advantage of the rare chance to rest and heal nagging knee and back injuries before he resumes competition training this fall.
He believes the extra time could even help him take another step in his career. Frye’s goal for 2021 is to throw past the prestigious 70-meter threshold. That’s a mark that would likely put him into the finals at the U.S. Trials and, most importantly, allow him to finish his career on his own terms.
“My goal is to potentially be better next year than I was this year, and not just push it down one year,” Frye said. “There’s no reason why I can’t get a meter or two better. If I can make top 10 at the Olympic Trials than that would be an extremely proud moment that I can have.”