Kelowna Olympic swimmer Kierra Smith was ready to perform on the world’s biggest stage again this summer until the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 because of COVID-19. (Contributed)

Okanagan Olympian finds silver lining in postponement of summer Olympics

Kelowna swimmer Kierra Smith returns to the Okanagan to start an extra year of training

It’s come full circle for Olympic swimmer Kierra Smith.

After staring her swimming career in Kelowna over 10 years ago, the 2016 Rio Olympian has returned to the Okanagan to train and prepare after the 2020 Olympics were postponed in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this week.

“It was just so unrealistic, you’d have never had foreseen this,” said Smith.

“But it had to happen. I’m grateful for the Canadian Olympic Committee for valuing us as people and not just athletes. Now I can focus on staying safe and healthy, and I get to use this extra time to amp myself up. It’s another year I get in my career, another year of the pressure, excitement and focus. It’ll be good.”

READ MORE: Canadian IOC member Dick Pound expects Olympic postponement

A member of the Canadian national team since 2014, the former Kelowna Aquajet has been training hard since the 2016 Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where she placed 7th in the 100-metre breaststroke).

Now, with the Tokyo Olympics pushed ahead to 2021, having her entire schedule shifted and pushed back to adapt to the pandemic is just another challenge that she, and other Olympians, must overcome.

“Athletes are adaptable by nature,” said Smith.

“It gives up-and-comers a chance to continue to develop, which, big scheme, is very good for our country and teams. There are inevitable ups and downs in any sport, and I think everyone can adapt to it and come out stronger on the other end.”

Coming back to the Okanagan after living her life in Minneapolis and Toronto wasn’t just for the comfort of being at home with family and friends during a global crisis, it was a strategic move to focus on her training by reconnecting with Aquajets coach Emil Dimitrov.

Smith said that she always saw herself training once again in Kelowna and didn’t want to do that without her former coach.

“We’ve gone back to the basics,” she said.

“Emil listens and that really helps me develop a cohesive breaststroke.

“It makes a difference the way people speak to you when you train and luckily for me he’s willing to work with me right now.

It makes trying to be the best in the world a lot easier.”

READ MORE: Kelowna golf clubs close after brief grace period during COVID-19 pandemic

With the decision to delay the Olympics to next summer now, she’s focusing on the things that are in her control — her training, attitude and perseverance.

“I’m just thinking about swimming and being on the podium,” Smith said.

CoronavirusOlympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Autism Awareness Day highlights challenges amid COVID-19

AutismBC regional coordinator in Kelowna discusses living with autism amid a pandemic

UPDATE: Good Samaritan delivers stolen sentimental mail

Some items stolen from boxes in the BX area were returned to the rightful owner

WATCH: Armstrong retirement community adapts amid COVID-19

Heaton Place rethinks programming to ensure residents stay safe, healthy and entertained

BREAKING: Inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre tests positive for COVID-19

This is B.C.’s first community outbreak at a corrections facility

Answer your phone, Vernon school district says

No caller ID or unknown callers could be your child’s teacher reaching out

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

‘We’re working to help every Canadian’: Minister of Middle Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier explains she is working with all levels of government amid COVID-19

Two planes come into close contact above Kelowna

The incident occurred between a WestJet flight and a private plane back in 2019

Most Read