Decision to delay the Tokyo Games a Silver Lining for Comerford

Daniel Phelan

22 August 2018; Orla Comerford of Ireland competing in the Women's T13, 100m's during the 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships at Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Luc Percival/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Irish Paralympian and European Championship bronze medallist, Orla Comerford sees the delay of the Paralympics to the summer of 2021 as an opportunity.

The delaying of both the Olympics and Paralympic Games was brought about amid the severity of the current coronavirus pandemic, leaving the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organising committee no choice but to postpone the event.

However, for Comerford, a T13 100m sprinter, a recurring ankle injury has been hampering the Raheny Shamrocks runner from reaching full fitness for some time.

Prior to the announcement of the postponement of the Paralympic Games, Comerford noted the serious approach to training at the Institute of Sport. “You’d come in the door and they’d take your temperature and if it was over a certain number, you weren’t allowed in. They cut any unnecessary staff or athletes from the building, the only people who could come in were people going for Tokyo.”

News of the postponement was met with positivity and a different perspective on expectations, “For me personally, its great news with the injury.  It’s fantastic to have the opportunity of another full year to get myself in the best shape possible. Obviously, it will change my routine. I’ll just have to settle into a new normal, but in particular, it really changes the pressure levels,” Comerford said.

The plan for Comerford remains the same, “it’s still the same goal. Tokyo is still the same goal for me. It just means I have a better opportunity at this. I think it really changes my perspective. This year was going to be a massive push and I feel as though it would have been an achievement to just get to Tokyo. In some regards, it had me in a similar position to Rio. It was a push to get there [Rio] and a huge achievement but I came away from the games disappointed with my performance.”

“While I like to stay positive, being realistic, I knew that I was putting myself in a really similar position to Rio 2016. In that it would be an enormous effort to get there and even if I did, I would likely be extremely disappointed in my performance,” said Comerford.

The Media Studies and Visual Arts student at NCAD had previously deferred her final year to focus on her training. It is unclear as of yet if she will return to her studies in the coming year, but for now, Comerford is focusing on being at the peak of her powers by 2021.

“It’s exciting. It gives me a whole new lease of motivation. That’s not to say I wasn’t motivated before, it just really shifts things for me in terms of the reality of what is possible in that time. That’s the thing with injury, sometimes the more pressure there is to get back by a certain point, the harder it actually is to get back. Without that restriction, it will be interesting to see how recovery goes,” she said.

Daniel Phelan

Image Credit: Sportsfile