Last week, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) announced that the World Aquatics Championships in Japan’s Fukuoka will be postponed from July 16 – August 1, 2021, to May 13 – 29, 2022 to avoid clashing with the delayed Summer Olympic in Tokyo. The change will further upset the plans of the Chinese national swimming and diving teams, but can also lead to new opportunities.

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Ye Shiwen won gold in the 200- and 400-meter women’s medley events at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but at one point her performance took a hit because of struggles on a personal level. However, in the last two years, Ye finally overcame her problems and gradually reconnected with her inner gold medalist. The additional year will give her more time to refine herself in the pool. Moreover, Ye’s biggest rival, Katinka Hosszu from Hungary will be 33 in 2021.

Women’s 50-meter backstroke world record holder Liu Xiang admitted that the postponement of the Olympics will affect athletes, but it depends on how you look at it. “We are all in a battle, whoever can exploit the unexpected incident will win in the end,” said Liu. She expressed the belief that the value of the Olympic gold medal is not the victory that happens once every four years, but also the process of overcoming various hardships to chase the victory.

Liu’s coach He Xinzhong revealed that the delay to the Olympics may cause unexpected changes next year. Furthermore, athletes have been preparing for the event for such a long time, but right before they could release all the energy they have saved, the competition was gone. This could strongly upset the athletes. Nonetheless, such a delay is a rare occasion – most athletes never saw it in their careers – so it could be a valuable test to one’s mental strength. If an athlete can adapt to it and eventually beats the challenge, they will grow stronger.

The Chinese swimming team has been training behind closed doors in three locations since the outbreak of the coronavirus. It has been helpful that athletes can still conduct systematic practice, but on the other hand, staying in a closed facility for long periods also imposes a challenge to them both mentally and physically. The coaching group is doing everything to help athletes relax and deal with stress.

“Postponing the Olympics will affect everyone. Anything can happen in the extra year and that gives me more time to adjust and improve myself,” said Chen. “We saw a lot of foreign athletes try to train even though they were quarantined at home. Compared with them, we were given the best conditions, how could we not work hard?”

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Divers also training behind closed doors and, compared to swimmers, they have more expectations of pocketing Olympic golds. They are also more confident. Wang Han, 29, has never attended the Olympics and but she never gave up her dream of winning the Olympic title. 20-year-old Lian Junjie is younger and more energetic. He will use the extra time to work on new moves to stay competitive.

Xie Siyi, China’s springboard ace, almost lost his career to injury and thus knows better than others how valuable every minute of his career is. To meet all the unpredictable changes in the coming year, he must become something better.

” I get my time to refine my skills and improve my stamina thanks to the extra time given by the Olympic delay. Self-encouragement is not enough now, we need to support and encourage each other to overcome all the difficulties that fall onto us,” said Xie.

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