ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Imagine spending years preparing for one big event, only to have it postponed – or maybe even canceled. That’s what Olympic athletes are dealing with right now, including some from the DMV, like Helen Maroulis.
Maroulis became an Olympic champion in Rio in 2016, pulling off a major upset in the 53-kilogram freestyle final to win the first-ever gold medal for a U.S. women’s wrestler.
“It’s just like a dream come true,” she recalled Thursday. “I think I was just in shock, tears of joy.”
In the years since, the Rockville native has continued to fight, to rehab injuries, to struggle – although things have been a little different since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Late last month, Olympic organizers announced the 2020 games in Tokyo would be moved to 2021. But now even that could be in doubt, with organizers saying the games could be canceled altogether if the outbreak continues into next year. “
It is fundamental to safeguard the health and safety of the athletes and audiences, considering the rapidly changing development of the health situation,” Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori told Nikkan Sports, a Japanese newspaper.
Asked for her reaction, Maroulis said she’d be disappointed but thinks she’d be able to handle the situation well, given her prior Olympic experience.
“I feel for my teammates that are young, up and coming, they’re ready for this moment and they’ve never experienced that before,” she explained.
Maroulis added that her training hasn’t changed too much, saying she’s lucky to be able to do most of it from home. And beyond that, like a lot of athletes, she said she understands the big picture.
“Unless they can guarantee that it’s safe for everyone, yeah, we shouldn’t do this,” Maroulis said.
She also mentioned that the one year delay may actually help her. Maroulis has dealt with injuries over the past few years and said the delay gives her more time to train.