The fight to get ready for a pandemic Olympics

Tom Bosworth was approaching the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the shape of his life, the holder of new British 5,000m and 10,000m racewalking records. Then he contracted coronavirus – just as the Games were postponed. The physical challenge he faced to meet a new target of qualification and competition in 2021 was immense. But so too was the psychological burden of uncertainty and pressure for what could be a career-defining moment.

He talks to Anushka Asthana about how he has met the challenge of preparing when a single missed training day can feel like a major setback – and the crucial importance of keeping athletic success in perspective alongside family, friends and everything else that matters in life. Anushka also speaks to Dr Kate Goodger, a performance psychologist who has worked with Team GB athletes across seven winter and summer Games, about the unique difficulties of getting ready for such a huge test in the face of the pandemic – and the lessons that the experiences of competitors such as Tom (and the movie Cool Runnings) hold for the rest of us.

You can hear a previous episode in which Tokyo correspondent Justin McCurry examines the reluctance among the Japanese public for the Games to go ahead here.

Tom Bosworth in the men's 5000m race walk at the Spar British Athletics Indoor Championships in February 2020.

Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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