By Neto Baptiste
US 400 metres hurdler, Rai Benjamin, believes that 2020 would have been his breakout year and that he would have performed well at the 2020 Olympics had it not been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Olympics was originally scheduled for 24 July to 9 August this year, but it has been postponed to 23 July to 8 August, 2021.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show Benjamin, who is the son of former West Indies and Antigua fast bowler, Winston Benjamin, is however confident he will be ready when the time arises.
“I also think that next year is going to be my Olympics as well but I was really prepared for this year. I had a new approach to practice, a new mentality this year and the results were showing in practice and it was just something we were excited for, and then boom, it’s not happening anymore so. I think we had a lot of momentum to close out the season and I feel like going into next season it is just going to be good as well too,” he said.
International sports was thrown into a tail spin in March following a global halt to all major competitions and tournaments in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly disease which has already claimed the lives of over 700,000 people worldwide.
Benjamin said it has been a rough road since then.
“When the first outbreak started it was kind of hard trying to figure out when we were going to practice, where we were going to practice and was the Olympics still happening; so it’s kind of been a roller coaster of emotions trying to figure out our scheduling and stuff like that, but we just had to learn and adapt every single day because you get so used to having a set goal, and when that got taken away it was just hard to figure out what we were going to do and stuff like that,” he said.
As for whether or not he would be willing to take a vaccine ahead of any major games, Benjamin said he is not too keen on getting vaccinated but would if there was no other option.
“I really don’t know. If it has been proven to work and there are no long-term effects of this vaccine, then probably, but I personally don’t want to get sick and we’ve been very cautious in practicing social distancing and maintaining a healthy status within our group. If push comes to shove and the IOC says everyone needs to be vaccinated, and show proof of vaccination in order to go to the Olympics, then at that point we don’t have a choice,” the athlete said.
Benjamin is the joint third fastest man in history in the 400 metres hurdles with a personal best time of 46.98 seconds, one of only four times in history under 47.00 seconds. He won a silver medal at his first World Championships in 2019 in the men’s 400 m hurdles, and a gold medal in the 4X400 metres relay at the same competition.