With the start of the Olympics in Tokyo 2021 on Friday, some local athletic figures are looking forward to watching the matches despite COVID-19 restrictions.
Kayla Felty, assistant director of athletics at Penn State Schuylkill, said she is excited to see the athletes be able to compete this year after the matches were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have a really deep understanding of the athletes and what they have been through mentally,” Felty said. “They trained for four years, then it was postponed and still in an unknown situation, it has to be mental taxation.”
Felty said the uncertainty about whether events will be canceled due to COVID-19 cases and the requirements to be tested is certainly an additional burden for the athletes, but she believes the experience will still be worth it.
“Who knows if in four years you will be at your peak longer,” Felty said. “It’s still worth the chance to go.”
Another aspect that Felty said can be challenging for athletes is the limitation of spectators.
“Having no spectators can affect their thinking,” Felty said. “Athletes really feed that amount of energy so it can change the way the games work.”
As a former softball player, Felty said she looks forward to watching the softball matches as well as swimming. As a graduate of Villanova University, she also has a personal connection to the men’s basketball team, which is coached by Jay Wright, Villanova’s head coach.
While Felty plans to watch these events, she said she does not think the Olympics have that much buzz from viewers this year.
“We’re all so emotionless about watching everything go on online and on TV,” Felty said. “People may not remember agreeing with so much that is happening in the world.”
Felty said the Olympics were not the only sporting event hampered by the pandemic, as athletics at Penn State Schuylkill and elsewhere experienced changes in the past year and a half.
“I’m really excited to see sports happen again, whether it’s at the Olympic level, college or high school level,” Felty said.
Sharon Klinger, owner of Schuylkill Aerial and Wellness in Pottsville, said that after the Olympics were postponed last year due to COVID-19, she is even more excited to see the matches this year.
“I’ve been looking forward to it all year,” Klinger said. “I marked it on my calendar. Although there will be a time difference, I plan to see as much as possible. ”
The most important event that Klinger plans to see is gymnastics. Klinger said she enjoys seeing new moves and routines from gymnasts around the world, but especially Simone Biles from Team USA.
While the environment may be different this year with COVID-19 restrictions, Klinger said she believes there may be some benefits.
“It can change the excitement when the audience is not there, but the gymnasts may have a greater ability to concentrate,” Klinger said. “I expect them to get the best performance.”
As a fitness instructor, Klinger has a special interest in gymnastics. She opened her yoga yoga studio in 2019 and said that watching Olympic gymnastics has helped her passion.
“As children, many of us had a goal of participating in the Olympics,” Klinger said. “Even if you do not reach it, you can start at any age and still pursue your passions in life.”
Klinger said watching athletes at the Olympics shows that it takes time and practice to pursue these passions.
“As long as you are willing to learn, you can do anything,” Klinger said.