Ladysmith’s Olympian, Faith Knelson is focused on staying healthy for the 2021 Olympics (Submitted photo)

Ladysmith’s Olympian, Faith Knelson is focused on staying healthy for the 2021 Olympics (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island Olympic hopeful resets after hard-fought journey to Tokyo Games hits COVID-19 pothole

When Faith Knelson learned Canada withdrew from the Olympics she had ‘five million emotions at once’

When Faith Knelson heard that the Canadian Olympic Committee, (COC), pulled out of the 2020 Tokyo games, she had ‘five million emotions all at once’. She knew it was the right call, but her heart was heavy with the weight of missing her first summer games.

Then, on Tuesday March 24, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), postponed the games – just two days after Canada withdrew athletes from the Olympics.

RELATED: Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021

“I was happy to hear the COC did so, it was mores the happiness knowing that the IOC could postpone the games,” Knelson said. ‘I think with us pulling out it made them realize people aren’t prepared for it, and athletes don’t have anywhere to train at the moment.”

Three weeks ago, Knelson was watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold in China. She thought about how close the crisis was to Tokyo, which gave her and her teammates concern.

“Then it hit Italy, and Italy announced all their sports trials were being cancelled. I thought it wasn’t fair even for one country for the IOC to still host. Then it hit Canada, and it hit hard when we had to give up our training facilities,” Knelson said.

“I got in the water last Monday, and I didn’t sleep well the night before because I was worried about the virus, and the anxiousness I had around being a swimmer, and having so many people at a public facility.”

That night, the facility was shut down. Saanich Commonwealth Pool, where Knelson and her team train, was one of the last facilities in the Greater Victoria Area to shut down. Island Health later warned the public of a possible COVID-19 exposure at the facility.

“For us there was a lot of anger. This should have been dealt with a bit better. However, I’m healthy, and all my teammates are healthy,” she said.

Knelson and her team are keeping their fitness levels up with home workout programs, dry-land training, and yoga, but without access to the water it’s difficult to stay in Olympic shape. Before the facilities closed, Knelson trained eight times a week.

Although the team has ‘scattered’, the team has conference calls every two-days. Knelson said there are strong systems in place to check in with coaches about their physical and mental health. Her biggest focus is staying healthy for competition in 2021.

Back in August 2019, Knelson competed at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. She swam to a bronze medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke, and earned a silver medal in the women’s 4x100m medley relay on the final day of swimming competition. But for Knelson that success did not come easy.

READ MORE: Knelson adds silver to Pan Am Games haul

Knelson had been training with a hip injury in advance of the Pan Am Games. Going into trials, she was feeling confident, even though she knew she wasn’t in peak shape.

“Heading into Pan Ams I knew I needed a couple good months of training and I could at least put up a best time. That was the goal.”

Three weeks before she left for Peru, her knee started acting up. Knelson had to have her knee frozen to deal with the pain for competition.

“I was a bit nervous with everything that happened the year prior,” she said. “Going into the finals I was seeded seventh. I’ve always had the mentality of I want to have fun, race and see how fast I can go… It wasn’t until I got on the blocks and I realized, I didn’t come all this way to swim one race and not win a medal.”

“I never had more fun racing. It was a pivotal point in swimming for me, and definitely pushed me toward this year.”

Knelson deferred a year of university at the University of Arizona in Tucson to train for the Olympics. She’s going to swim and compete in the NCAA for the Arizona Wildcats while she pursues education in broadcast journalism.

Although the games have been postponed, Knelson cannot postpone school any longer. She is going to university in the August and will have to balance school, sport, and Olympic training in her first year.

Knelson is keeping a close eye on how the COVID-19 pandemic is developing, and she hopes the virus won’t disrupt her post-secondary plans.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next day, never mind the next month, or five months. There’s still some students down there who are cross training and living in student housing. Our coaches are down there. If the borders are still shut down by then, I’ll have to work around it. I don’t have any plans other than school right now,” Knelson said.

For now, Knelson is relieved that the Olympics have been postponed, and is thankful that she can keep herself, and her family healthy.

“Having a start for July 24 was scary for all of us. The biggest thing for me was thinking about my dad, who’s had compromised health, and my grandma who’s 94-years-old… Above all I’m really thinking about my family.”

CoronavirusTokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Vandals strike in Parksville, prowler lurks in Nanoose Bay

Oceanside RCMP receive 276 complaints in one-week period

The intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street, where a child was struck and injured in November 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
High-traffic Parksville intersection to get temporary 4-way stop

City staff to monitor effectiveness of traffic-calming measure at Despard and Moilliet

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Nanaimo flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

A motorcycle instructor going through a traffic cone course. (Photo courtesy of BC Traffic Services)
B.C. Traffic Services reminds drivers to share the road with motorcyclists

36 riders are killed in 2,400 crashes involving motorcycles on B.C. roads every year

Most Read