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Olympic champion Ryan Murphy thinks Games in 2021 will be more competitive than ever

Olympic champion Ryan Murphy swimming backstroke at Northside Swim Center in San Antonio.
Olympic champion Ryan Murphy swimming backstroke at Northside Swim Center in San Antonio. (KSAT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the first Olympic stars to endorse the decision to postpone the Tokyo games at least a year was three-time gold medal-winning swimmer Ryan Murphy. The former Bolles Bulldog said Sunday that he expected the Games to be pushed back and he supports the decision.

“I really think from the athletes’ perspective, it was definitely a slow bubble. We saw this coming form a couple of days out. We had a wide range of emotions,” Murphy said. “From a human being side, we totally understand. This was 100 percent the right decision. We have to do our part to support the medical community right now and be stewards for society.”

Murphy admitted that his support of the decision was countered by a disappointment—albeit rather brief — about the change in plans. After all, he was pointing his training to being at the top of his game in Tokyo.

“On one side we had that, on the other side, we’re athletes, we’re competitors. We started the job this year and we wanted to finish the job this year,” Murphy said. “Luckily, we’re going to be able to. It’s just going to be pushed to 2021 now. It was a wide range of emotions, but this was 100 percent the right call.”

Swimming, like many other Olympic sports training plans are built around the World Championships, Olympic qualifying and the Games themselves. The uncertainty that hung over Olympic hopefuls before the decision was frustrating for some.

Murphy has continued his training at his alma mater, the University of California-Berkley under the head Olympic coach for the United States swimming team, Dave Durden.

“He’s excited about this challenge,” Murphy said of Durden. “He’s like, ‘We were ready this year. We’re going to be ready next year.’ I put my trust in him. He’s going to come up with a good plan. All I have to do is bust my butt and do everything I can do to be the absolute best I can be. If I follow his direction, I think I can be pretty good.”

As far as the impact the postponement is concerned, Murphy thinks it will make the Games even more competitive than usual. Young swimmers have another year to improve their times while older athletes who may have not competed if they knew the games were going to be pushed back, may see the additional year’s work as worth the potential payoff.

“Now, it’s like, we’re a year away, we’re going to keep rolling after this. You’ve got people extending their careers on the back end and you have the young upstarts ready to hit their strides,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s runway to the Olympics went from a few months to at least 16 months. Fittingly, he’s adjusted his training.

“Right now, I’m on break,” Murphy said. “This decision was really the closure to my season. So that’s nice. I’m taking some time off to give myself a mental reset. Then I’ll start to work out a little more, week after week. From a training aspect, it gives you more time. Assuming the Olympics is going to be July 2021, that gives you 16 months to get ready. That’s the longest season I’ve ever had, so that gives us some flexibility. I’m looking forward to it.”

So, like a lot of others during the pandemic, Murphy has turned to Netflix for some relief. And yes, he has watched Tiger King.

“I binged watched it over the past two or there days,” Murphy said. I loved what the Jaguars did with the tweet with Minshew. It was an absolutely wild documentary. I mean, that was going on in Tampa, Florida. That’s unbelievable that there are people like that,” Murphy. “That’s a different beast. The animals and Joe Exotic.”


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