How Will Postponing 2020 Olympics Impact Former LSU Athletes?

Glen West

The 2020 Olympics is an event that former LSU pole vaulting star Mondo Duplantis has been training for his entire life. A prodigy for the event from a young age, Duplantis was in an issue of Sports Illustrated as a high school athlete after clearing 19' 4¼" which would've placed him third in the Rio Olympics.

"Last August he placed ninth at worlds, making him the only top 10 finisher younger than 20 years old," the SI issue read. "Come 2020, he'll be an early favorite in Tokyo."

From his success at the high school level, Duplantis turned in a phenomenal singular season at LSU, setting the college outdoors pole vaulting record with a 6.00 meter jump and an indoor record with a 5.92 meter jump.

All of Duplantis's years of hard work set him up for the greatest accomplishment of all, the world record, which he was able to achieve at the ripe age of 20 back in February.

One week later, Duplantis broke his own world record of 6.17 meters with a 6.18 meter jump.

With the world record in hand, Duplantis had his sights set on the Olympic gold for pole vaulting. However, those aspirations were put on halt earlier this week when it was announced the 2020 Olympics, set to take place this summer, would be postponed to 2021.

“It’s a bummer that I won't be able to compete in the Olympics this year, but you have to understand the situation … understand that some things are a little bigger than sport,” Duplantis told Reuters via Skype.

Duplantis wasn't the only LSU athlete aspiring for the Olympics that now will have to wait a year. Former track stars Lolo Jones (100m hurdles), Cassandra Tate (400m hurdles), Kimberlyn Duncan (200m), Mikiah Brisco (100m, 200m), Aleia Hobbs (100m, 4x100) and Quincy Downing (400m) are among the athletes that were training for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Jones, of course is the most renowned of the group, placing fourth in the 2012 Olympics after winning the World Indoor Championships in 2010. Tate has also had a very successful career, winning the bronze in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. 

Olympic athletes all around the country made their opinions heard about the decision to postpone the 2020 games until 2021. Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky said the whole process has been overwhelming but understands there's a larger issue at stake.

“It’s been pretty overwhelming,” said Ledecky on Tuesday. “Every hour, every day, something was changing. I was glued to the phone making calls and sending texts, checking the news. It was kind of hard to be told to ‘do our best.’ We were driving ourselves mad trying to ‘do our best’ for two weeks.

“USA Swimming got the ball rolling a bit on this,” Ledecky said. “There are more important things to be thinking about in terms of global health. We should be concentrating on that.”

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has already come out and said that the Olympics can't be pushed further than the summer of 2021 in order to "safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.” 

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