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Olympic postponement is a chance for younger athletes, says decathlon Kaul

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-13 10:08
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A countdown clock shows the adjusted time remaining for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games outside Tokyo station, in Tokyo on March 30, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

BERLIN - The ruling decathlon world champion Niklas Kaul intends to use the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to work on his weaknesses.

"For me, as a younger athlete, the postponement to 2021 due to the corona crisis is only a minor problem. It gives me the chance to improve and work on my apparent gaps and update my technical skills in several topics," the 22-year-old 2019 Doha winner commented.

Inner conflicts might, in the first place, tear older athletes as many intended to take the 2020 Olympics as their career ends.

Some might decide to add another year and months of intense training efforts. Others have to face the hard truth of an unexpected end of their career as a sportsman.

"We all know that sport is only playing a side role at present. Health is the most important topic for society," the youngest athlete ever to win the decathlon crown added.

Restricted training is providing the opportunity to concentrate on other things, the Mainz-born university student said.

This week he joined a list of sports celebrities cheering triathlon champion Jan Frodeno as a virtual crowd.

The German ironman winner set up a home triathlon to raise money for charity projects around his adopted home town Girona in Spain. Like many parts of the country, the region has been struck by the virus crisis.

"I am happy to be part of Jan's fantastic challenge to some extent as he deserves respect for action like that in hard times," Kaul emphasized. Frodeno managed to collect over 200 000 euros from fans, sponsor partners, and fellow sportspeople.

Athletes must be creative at present, Kaul stated. "Current training efforts are far from what we do in normal times. Things usually look different ahead of a major event like the Olympics," the student on his way to be a teacher of physics and sports at the Johannes Gutenberg-University commented.

"To reduce the effort was a mental problem for most of us as it came somehow unexpectedly," he added. He feels exceptionally sorry for athletes having to quit now. "For many athletes, this was the last chance to attend the Olympic Games."

To care for the staff of clubs and associations is the most important task now. "All parts of society are affected, and help is needed for many people in trouble since the virus outbreak," he underlined.

For athletes who decided to continue, the goal must be to use the break in the best possible way. He called it an unknown challenge. "The ones making the best out of a difficult situation will be the ones benefitting most in the end."

He decided to subordinate everything possible to be ready when the Games take place in 2021. To shift the Games to 2021 was the right step, he stressed.

Kaul stopped a training camp in South Africa after the announcement of the IOC to shift the Games to next year.

The decathlon athlete expects the European Championships scheduled for the end of August to be postponed as well.

Until further plans can be set up, he sticks to jogging, ergometer training, and a little jumping around in the backyard," he said. "We have some weights and medicine balls around."

Kaul emphasized training like that is only suitable to keep a certain fitness level. Sprints and technique training can't take place orderly.

While the break is taking off pressure from athletes' shoulders, it must be clear "that we can't go on like that for several months."

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