Covid-19 Delays Francis’ Olympic Hopes

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While it didn’t become official until March 24, Victoria Francis wasn’t surprised when the decision was made to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

“I agree it’s the right call,” the Litchfield grad and member of the U.S. national wrestling team said. “This week and a half, I knew it was the fairest and safest choice.”

By now, Francis would have been in the home stretch of her training for the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials, which were scheduled for April 4-5 at Penn State University in State College, PA. But with the Covid-19 outbreak, the decision was made by USA Wrestling  to delay the event on March 13, with the delay in the Olympics adding extra validation to that decision.

The week before, Francis was competing in the Pan American Championships in Ottawa, Canada with her fellow U.S. teammates, wrestling at 72 kilograms, which is not an Olympic weight class. Francis would take silver at the meet, rebounding from a loss to Peru’s Yanet Sovero with a 13-2 win over Shauna Kuebeck of Canada and a 12-0 win over Brenda Aguiar Dos Santos of Brazil.

But since the coronavirus outbreak, social distancing has taken its toll on Francis’ progress.

“My training is currently limited, especially since it’s hard to wrestle someone six feet away,” Francis said. “But I’m staying active and focused and looking forward to the next year as I continue to grow and improve for the games.”

Once the Olympic Trials are rescheduled, Francis is planning to drop down to 68 kilograms, where 2019 World champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock possibly awaits. Going up a weight class to 76 kilograms wouldn’t have been any easier, with another 2019 world champion, Adeline Gray, who also won that title in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018, waiting there.

Still, whether it be a tough match or a unexpected delay, misfortune is not going to stand in the way of Francis’ attempt at making the Olympic team. As she posted on her Facebook page on March 25, “Adversity doesn’t define you. How you react to it does.”

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