BY the end of February this year, deep into the final phase of his qualification quest for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Australian 400m runner and 2012 Olympic Games finalist Steve Solomon had recorded the two fastest times he’d ever opened a new season with.
He’d ramped up the intensity of training with his coach Penny Gillies for months on end – sometimes to the point of vomiting after sessions – with the aim of shaving a few more fractions of a second to cement a ticket to Tokyo.
Having missed out on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics by just 0.04 of a second, the Australian Athletics Team co-captain since 2019 knew what he needed to do.
Then the global COVID-19 outbreak arrived, the Australian Championships in March and all remaining national and international meets for this year were cancelled, and a modern Olympic Games was postponed for the first time, to July 25, 2021.
Like many elite athletes, that was a devastating spanner in the works to deal with.
But the 27-year-old – who works full time at Uber Eats’ head office in Sydney – told The AJN he’s taken the time to process it all, and is now approaching the next 12 months with renewed optimism and focus.
“One of the things that isn’t always front of mind to elite athletes is the physical and mental toll of intense training, especially in an Olympics year, so the first thing me and my coach did in March was take a rare three-week break from structured training to recharge, treating it as a mini off-season,” Solomon said.
“I mixed in some cycling and rowing, spent time with family and friends, and then we set clear new goals for the year.
“While I’m really missing competitive racing, I’ve returned to proper training, I’m feeling really strong and energised, and actually knowing I’ve got more time to work on things is a real plus.”
Similarly, Solomon views the extra period available before Olympic qualifying crunch time as beneficial for the 400m men’s relay team he leads.
“We’re a pretty young group – apart from me and maybe Alex Beck – so the opportunity for some further development is very positive.”
Solomon has decided to share his most raw, honest and insightful reflections about his remaining journey towards Tokyo – in real time – via his newly launched membership-only site on online community platform Patreon.
“One of the things I value the most as a professional athlete is the ability to help others, so having competed for Australia for 10 years and developing a bank of knowledge about high performance and goal-setting, I’m keen to share that via Patreon.
“So far about 110 people have signed on and nobody has unsubscribed so far, which I’m taking as a good sign!”
To follow Steve Solomon’s personal journey towards the Tokyo Olympics, visit www.patreon.com/stevensolomon.