Olympic athletes have 'No chance to make any money for 16 months': Decathlon coach
LONDON, ONT. -- The postponement of this summer's Olympic games could be a crushing financial blow to athletes.
"I don't know what any athlete is going to do for money over the next 16 months," says Gar Leyshon, coach of decathlete Damian Warner. "Everything is built on four-year cycles, the money, support and sponsorship. For athletes to get no money and do nothing for four years, its' going to be tough."
Warner has major sponsors like Nike, so he'll weather the storm. However he may end up losing some of his other supporters. Many of his friends and teammates won't be so lucky.
"This being an Olympic year, we've had people rally for us and I'm not sure how it works with another year," says Warner, the Londoner who is the number one ranked decathlete in the world.
"Being on social media and knowing athletes, its going to have a ripple effect for a lot of people. The upcoming months will be tough for sure."
Director of International Center for Olympic Studies (ICOS) Angela Schneider also feels for those high performance athletes. She thinks sport organizations and even the federal government need to step up to help both psychologically and financially.
"They had a duty of care for their health, and now a duty of care to help them through this time," says Schneider, a silver-medal winning rower for Canada in the 1984 Olympics.
"It's a time for everyone to step up and be flexible. There will be some of them who cannot hang on for another year, and that's a great loss. These are very trying times for athletes."
This summer was Warner's time to cash in. He'll start to construct a new training schedule once the new Olympic date is set, but for now, he's trying to spin the extra practice time into a positive.
"We competed in Doha (Qatar) in October and then in Louisiana and I had two personal bests," says Warner, who is still trying to find places to train.
"I've seen my discus improve rapidly and I have no reason to believe if I have to wait another year I couldn't improve those other events."
Leyshon is also unsure whether he'll survive this next year financially. He's on an unpaid leave from his teaching job and was counting on his athlete winning a medal in Tokyo.
He thinks there is a chance he may have to give up his coaching gig and go back to teaching to pay the bills.
Leyshon also feels for his own student. Warner was accelerating to a point where he was at the peak of his physical abilities.
"Damian was looking like a million bucks," says Leyshon. "He was healthy for first time in years. To win a gold medal at the Olympics, everything has to be perfect and you don't get that many chances to do it. I feel like our preparation was really good and part of the reason it’s so frustrating."