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Reigning Olympic champion Elinor Barker is not contemplating the idea of the Tokyo Games being cancelled as questions continue less than two months before the planned opening ceremony.
With Tokyo in a state of emergency during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, polls have shown a majority in Japan remain opposed to the Games taking place.
But for athletes who have dedicated years of their life preparing for the event, and who need to keep their focus in the final weeks before the scheduled start, it is not a conversation they can afford to have.
“We are not really entertaining the idea that it won’t happen with one another,” said Barker, who took team pursuit gold in Rio. “There are members on my team for whom this will be their third or fourth Olympics. There will be some people for whom this will be their first Olympics.
“I feel like it’s part of my job not to tell them that it won’t happen, not to tell them what previous Olympics were like and what they will be missing out on.
“Just to try to make the best of the experience as we possibly can.”
While the pandemic leaves a question mark over the Games themselves, the situation has already caused huge disruption to the build-up.
Since the World Championships 14 months ago, at which Barker took gold in the points race, the vast majority of international competitions have been postponed or cancelled. Barker has raced only once since Berlin – at the European Championships in November.
The 26-year-old admitted the lack of racing was not ideal but played down the impact.
“So much of our training is gym based or track based and we don’t necessary need that to be able to perform well,” she said.
“I am not too worried about it at the moment. Obviously I love racing. That is why I do what I do. I’d prefer to be racing. But in terms of preparation for the Games it has been going quite well.”
The much bigger potential blow to Barker’s preparations was a collision with a car which happened in late April.
The 26-year-old was grateful to suffer only minor injuries when a driver failed to stop following the incident on a roundabout, resuming normal training within a few days.
“I was unbelievably lucky,” Barker said. “It could have been so much worse. As frustrating as it was, I didn’t really do any damage or nothing long-term anyway. I was incredibly lucky about that.”
The driver involved has not been traced, with Barker saying the incident illustrates the risks cyclists are made to take every day.
“I don’t want to say it is part of being on the road, but we all know what it is like, we all know the risks that we take when we go out training.
“I think (drivers) just need to have a bit of patience really. Just imagine it is somebody you know who is holding you up for 10-20 seconds. Treat them as someone you know and someone that you love.
“I can understand that it can be frustrating. But I just feel very frustrated. For example, just imagine that this person who hit me recently, thinking that they didn’t have time as they were running a few minutes late to work.
“But that has nothing to do with me. It is not my fault. It shouldn’t have to impact my life just because they didn’t give themselves an extra five minutes. Be considerate of one another. It’s not that hard.”
:: Elinor Barker was speaking at the launch of Simon Jersey’s Tokyo 2020 formalwear range for Team GB: www.simonjersey.com