CHULA VISTA, Calif. — With the spread of coronavirus putting sports on the back burner and cancelling or postponing everything from youth sports to major leagues around the world, the 2020 Summer Olympics were the final domino to fall.
The Games, originally scheduled to get underway July 24 in Tokyo, Japan, were officially postponed Tuesday in an announcement made by the International Olympic Committee.
While the pandemic-caused sports shutdown has had a negative impact on people around the globe, Johnsonburg native and top-ranked javelin thrower Michael Shuey continues to keep things in perspective.
Shuey, who currently resides at the Elite Athletic Center in Chula Vista, Calif., was all but a shoe-in to qualify for the games as he is currently the top-ranked javelin hurler in the United States and No. 27 in the world.
While the 2012 Johnsonburg grad noted it is not under the best of circumstances, he is keeping positive about the postponement in the sense that it gives him an extra year to prepare.
The Games are tentatively pushed back to the summer of 2021, but no specific date has been set, as Shuey said it is a challenge to stay prepared for an undetermined date.
“It’s an unfortunate advantage, just because the circumstances that give us this extra time are life-changing for the rest of the population, but because I’m in a rare situation of being able to be out at the training center and have the opportunity to just focus on one thing in my life,” Shuey said.
The former Ram, who won a PIAA gold medal with a throw of 200-feet, 1-inch as a senior, said that despite being at an isolated training facility, the virus still plays a role in his training.
Shuey noted that with the weight room closes down, he has spent time focusing on different exercises and gymnastics-based training.
“We have plenty of time to play with different training options, you just adapt and take some risks with your day-to-day stuff and try some different stuff in training to find out what will work and what won’t work,” Shuey said.
He added that the situation has proved that you can never be too set in your ways with training practices.
The training facility currently houses United States rugby and archery teams along with the track and field athletes, Czech Republic’s rowing team and a throwing team from China’s track and field team as in total about 70 athletes are housed on site.
Shuey is holding onto hope that a 2020 track and field season will still take place during the late summer months, as he noted 2021 has the potential to be an exciting year for track and field athletes.
The World Championships are currently slated to be held in August of next year, but Shuey noted there is a potential the date could be changed to put more time between the two largest completions in the world for track and field athletes.
“They are the two largest stages that you could possibly compete on in the sport, so to be in the same year, it would be an interesting dynamic to see how that would all play out,” Shuey said.
While the former Penn Stater noted the opportunity would be exciting for an athlete such as himself that is relatively new to competitions at the global level, it could pose challenges for other athletes.
Shuey broke the PSU school record with a throw of 250’-9” in his final collegiate event, the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, earning him a third-place finish on his way to earning All-American honors.
“A lot of professions gear their season towards one major championship and they don’t really focus that much on both,” Shuey said.
“They are the two largest stages that you could possibly compete on in the sport, so to be in the same year, it would be an interesting dynamic to see how that would all play out.”
Shuey understands that while the extra year of preparation could allow him to improve his own game, it also gives the same opportunity to athletes around the world.
He noted the extra year gives athletes a chance to have surgery on a nagging injury that they may have otherwise put off or focus on any other little things in order to better themselves.
“It’ll be interesting to see how everyone utilizes it and some people might not utilize it well, but hopefully I’m on the upper end of that,” Shuey said.
While there is a lot of uncertainty currently surrounding the sports world, one thing is for sure, Shuey will be ready to represent Johnsonburg, all of Pennsylvania and his country no matter when the Olympic torch is lit in Tokyo.