Four hundred and seventy-one days. That’s the number on the countdown clock for the Tokyo Summer Olympics as this story goes up. About seven times as long as Cristopher Columbus’s voyage to America. Or the length of almost 9,700 field hockey games. That’s how long Olympics-bound athletes must get through without getting injured. Or losing focus. For those who haven’t qualified yet, that’s how long they must stay motivated as well.
What they do in the next 471 days will determine not only their destiny at the Games but also their future. The next 15 or so months will decide how they are remembered in the annals of history. Getting through is easier said than done.
Athletes are conditioned to compete, mentally and physically. Against every opponent. Against all the odds. Jesse Owens, the American track and field athlete who won four gold medals at Berlin 1936 in Nazi Germany and destroyed Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy, fought