At the beginning of this year, I had a six week plan to compete in high level international tournaments every single weekend, all in different countries, so as to gather
enough points to not only contend for a slot in the Olympics, but solidify my position going into the next Olympic Cycle. Three and a half weeks into this trip, in the middle of Bariloche, Argentina, me and the US team were all sent shocking news. We had all been so removed from the events of the world while competing, that no one was prepared to be called back home immediately due to a worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 causing countries’ borders to immediately close.
We all expected to be back on the circuit by the end of May, then we were told to be ready by July, and then September. Every time me and my teammates trained as best we could, by cutting weight and remaining at the ready to compete by the ever pushed back deadline. It was an admittedly frustrating process to constantly be ‘tournament ready’ as it isn’t actually possible to maintain long-term. By the time we were told by the International Judo Federation assured us that a tournament would probably happen in October, a lot of US athletes had decided to just work on training for next year or prepared for within the difficult conditions the quarantine had us in.
Preparing for a tournament during a US quarantine was very different. I was lucky
enough to have been living with three of my teammates, all of whom were within just a few kilograms of my own weight class. Two of them were also international competitors and were also training for the upcoming tournaments. My group was also lucky to have access to a home gym outfitted with weights, barbells, and dumb bells. Like many athletes, our judo training center is closed due to New York’s strict regulations in handling Covid. So, me and my teammates Macgyvered a way to drill throws at home, supplement as best we
could (me with the help of SR CarnoSyn® ), and prepare for the upcoming tournament.
Competing at the Grand Slam Budapest was easily one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had with a tournament. We were notified only five days before the
tournament that it was actually happening. We had to get flights, transport, two negative Covid tests, a visa to Hungary which was ultimately rejected, and letters of invitation from the Hungarian Judo Association in order to override the rejected visa requests. Upon arrival, we were subjected to two more Covid tests and locked into our rooms for quarantine. While awaiting my Covid results in the hotel room, it was terrifying reading news that the entirety of the Italian team that had come to Hungary had been disqualified due to four positive Covid tests. Then I received news that one of the US teams out of Texas had tested positive. Thankfully it was our only positive and because none of the rest of us had
had contact with him, we were all cleared to make weight. After weigh-ins we were administered two more Covid tests and after negative results, we were cleared to compete.
While competing, it was clear that the Judo world as a whole was out of practice. Many underperformed, there were many upsets, and it seemed the referees were out of practice as there were some particularly bad calls. But overall, it felt good to compete again. It was a bit of normalcy amongst what had felt like an onslaught of chaos. After the tournament was over, we all headed home to go back into quarantine and New York’s shutdown. With the IJF promptly announcing that tournaments wouldn’t return until 2021, personally I breathed a sigh of relief. Now I was free to focus on improvement in judo, in strength, and in cardio as opposed to simply focusing on preparations for competing.
My ability to work shifts at the pharmacy has dramatically decreased since spring. This has given me more time to focus on my training and my school work. With the end of fall semester, I am looking forward to graduating next year in May 2021 and applying to master's programs! I also have had time to train double what I could before the shut down. I train judo nearly every night and have been able to consistently weight lift every other day. My lifts are at an all time high, dramatically increasing by 40lbs over the last ten weeks! Being at home has also made being consistent with my supplements so much easier. This typically means a four times a day routine of supplementing with SR CarnoSyn® at 6.4g per day, along with twice a day dosing of HMB, Creatine, iron, and glucosamine chondroitin. Again, a routine that is much easier to keep up with when I am not leaving the house! I am starting to enjoy being home. I feel a lot of empathy for all the businesses in my area that are struggling due to the shutdown, but I am at least grateful that I am able to maintain and improve my abilities in my sport as I look forward to next year. I am confident that I will go into 2021 stronger and more capable in the upcoming tournaments, setting up my run for the 2024 Olympics.