Aberdeen swimming sensation Toni Shaw says it would “really disappointing” if Tokyo 2020 was postponed further.
This week, International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Dick Pound said he couldn’t say for “certain” the Olympic and Paralympic Games, postponed from last year, will go ahead this summer due to the fluidity of the Covid-19 situation across the globe.
Shaw, 17, won six medals at the 2019 World Para-swimming Championships in London and, having used the Paralympics’ delay as an opportunity to get even faster, hopes she doesn’t have to wait any longer for her debut on the sport’s biggest stage.
Shaw said: “I’m definitely hoping they do happen this year, 100%.
“If they do get pushed back again, I know it will be for health reasons, but I think, after everyone has already had a year’s postponement, it would be really disappointing if it happened again.”
Albyn School pupil Shaw is still able to train at Aberdeen Sports Village Aquatics Centre, alongside 11 others who all have an elite athlete exemption from current Scottish Government coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Shaw’s selection for Team GB hinges on her performances at the British Para-Swimming Championships, which are scheduled to take place at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, between April 8 and 11.
The pandemic has meant an absence of competition over the last 12 months for Shaw to size up her national and international rivals. As a result, she is heading into both the British Championships and potential Paralympics beyond focused on herself, not her competitiors.
She said: “I speak to my friends on the team and we speak about how much we’re getting to swim, but I have no idea how other people are training, so I’ll just have to wait until trials to see.
“I just try to focus on myself. Sometimes you obviously are going to think about what other people are doing, but I’m trying to focus on me, because I can’t really control anything else.”
Shaw’s races of choice are the S9 100m butterfly, in which she is the reigning world silver medallist, as well as the 100m and 400m freestyle, in which she won a bronze and silver respectively.
At the 2019 worlds, Shaw also won two golds in the 4x100m medley and freestyle relays, as well as 200m individual medley bronze.
Should she go to Tokyo, and follow-up her trip to Australia with Team Scotland for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Shaw – who is also British record-holder in the 100m fly and 100m free – is looking to make it to finals.
She said: “There are some countries who don’t really race at all until they get to the Games. Like China, I don’t think their swimmers really race until they get there, so there’s some people you’ve never heard of who show up.
“I’m definitely aiming to be in the finals if I make it (to the Games), and then try and place as high as I can I guess.”
One thing an extra year of preparation for Tokyo has given sixth-year pupil Shaw is a chance to build her strength, and, because of pools closing due to the first lockdown, land training was all she could do for a period.
Shaw, who has applied to several universities to study business in the new academic year, has reaped the benefits of increased power in what racing she has managed to do.
She said: “We did a bit of short course racing a while ago and I think you could tell – most people’s starts and kicking was better because we’ve been doing so much stuff on land, like jumping and squats.
“Obviously being in the pool would’ve been better, but I don’t think it’s put me back too much and I didn’t feel like I’d been out of the pool as long as I was.”