When Kyle Chalmers, the Olympic swimming champion, concluded his realization that he was the last, before the break because of public isolation measures to combat the coronavirus, it filled his feelings with sadness and fear of what would happen.
It is difficult for fear reaching the 21-year-old Australian swimmer, who has undergone two heart surgeries, since winning the 100m freestyle in the Rio Olympics and loves crocodiles and snakes.
Despite the need for some time, to understand the fact that the dream of defending the Olympic title in Tokyo was postponed for 12 months, the probable departure from the pool for about half a year, made those feelings reach his heart.
“My biggest fear was being unable to do the thing I love, which is swimming, and if I can’t do it for six months, I will feel very uncomfortable,” Chalmers said by telephone from South Australia.
“I love to train and I like to train … I think I love to train more than I love racing.”
“Ambiguity remains a challenge, especially for athletes, who have plans from waking up to the last minute before bed.”
“This is the reason everyone is afraid, especially me, which is getting out of this routine, and just trying to think about how to spend this time now.”
* Shock phase
Experts have warned that isolation for a long time may be a psychological problem for people, it links the whose source of income and appreciation to the competition.
“Many athletes are still in the initial trauma, perhaps because of confusion, and also because of some relief after all this chaos,” said Caroline Anderson, a psychologist working with professional and Olympic athletes in Australia.
“Perhaps the two most important strategies in an athlete’s life collaborate, and by giving him this competitive ability that pushes him to physical performance, for six or seven hours a day … this is no longer available, which represents a very great difficulty.”
Chalmers also resorted to practicing yoga, hiking, and riding a bike, to maintain his physical and psychological ability, while waiting for the return of a temporary swimming pool, in the backyard of his residence.
Chad Lokloh, a former Olympic champion in the butterfly event, is trying to take advantage of the current situation by restricting himself with a strong rope while swimming, in his small basin, in Cape Town.
“This is not perfect, but you have to be creative considering the restrictions imposed … This will help me move forward,” said the South African swimmer.
The most prominent athletes have tremendous momentum, talent and ability to perform under heavy pressure, but they are not immune to mental health problems.
Many of them have already spoken of struggling with frustration and recovering from nervous breakdowns.
Some hold their responsibilities quietly, while others have committed suicide in recent years.
Psychiatrist Anderson said that self-isolation increases the risk of experiencing psychological crises, and this applies not only to athletes with previous problems.
“This sudden cessation of sport, from a psychological and biological point of view, represents a decrease in endorphins, and (loss) of identity,” she added.
Many athletes deal with general isolation measures with courage, by preparing their homes seriously for training, and by publishing various videos.
Tennis legend Roger Federer posted a video of himself during some deceptive strikes, on a wall outside his country, Switzerland.