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Pan Am Games’ athletes ponder Tokyo 2020

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LIMA, Peru — Several if any of the major names at the 2019 Pan American Video games experienced nearly anything at stake with regard to subsequent year’s Olympics. Medalists in Lima this kind of as gymnast Riley McCusker, sprinter Mike Rodgers and swimmer Nathan Adrian will get other avenues seeking obtain to Tokyo.

Direct passages were being booked from Lima to Tokyo for the U.S. in activities this sort of as the modern-day pentathlon and h2o polo, whilst Olympic quotas have been attained in archery, equestrian, sailing and capturing. All other hopefuls most have on with their respective sport’s qualification process.

Still, the Lima 2019 Games proved a vital warmup to future year’s Olympics, if for absolutely nothing else to help people included get accustomed to the feel of worldwide level of competition or lifestyle in the athletes’ village — ordeals not quickly accessible at other functions.

In excess of the study course of the earlier 2½ weeks, many athletes discussed their potential customers for Tokyo and past with ESPN. Below are decide on responses:

U.S. all-around silver and team gold medalist Riley McCusker explained she’s not imagining however about the Olympics, preferring to focus on a meet up with at a time: “It truly is surely a wonderful practical experience to get out of the nation and compete due to the fact we don’t have a great deal of possibilities to do that. Just to be on new gear, be on a massive entire world stage, I’d only actually professional that 1 other time when we had been in Doha [at last year’s world championships], and I absolutely desired to just take it one particular phase up from there and get much better just about every time.”

U.S. 3×3 women’s basketball gold medalist and Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu on the long term of the sport, which makes its Olympic debut subsequent 12 months: “I consider it is really super advantageous for any player that is participating in basketball to be capable to enjoy 3-on-3. Just being ready to go out there without having a mentor and have to make reads on your own you have to be ready to get along with the team which is just [been] put jointly and compete at a large degree is a little something that is hard.”

U.S. swimmer Nathan Adrian, after winning silver in 100-meter freestyle, just one of his five medals in Lima: “No make a difference what any person goes this calendar year, subsequent calendar year it’s likely to be various. You could look at the globe major-10 rankings this year, and future year I promise you, a lot of those people fellas will nonetheless be there but the quantities are likely to be distinctive.”

U.S. sprinter Mike Rodgers on the confidence obtained from winning gold in Lima with an eye on Tokyo: “It’s been climbing a mountain to get a medal on a podium in a big stage, and this is like a dress rehearsal to get my intellect to, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ So now, I have acquired to go to the planet championships and do the identical matter, and then get myself up for the Olympics next 12 months to do the very same point. So it truly is a major subsequent two yrs for me.”

U.S. women’s softball pitcher and 2008 silver medalist Monica Abbott, whose team by now certified for Tokyo as the sport returns to the lineup for the to start with time in 12 a long time: “I consider the greatest variation proper now is how a great deal the game of softball has improved from 2008 to 2020. I feel technological know-how alone, information and facts, and just all round competitiveness across the entire world correct now is so considerably much better than it was in 2008.”

U.S. softball pitcher and Olympic veteran Cat Osterman on what she hopes to convey to the next era of gamers: “No issue how quite a few worldwide functions you might be in, the Olympics are the pinnacle. So your nerves and your adrenaline and your emotions are a minimal bit various.”

Venezuelan gold-medal triple jumper Yulimar Rojas, who won the party with reigning winner Caterine Ibarguen absent for the reason that of damage: “This medal is but a sample of all the sacrifices that I have created. I imagine it is a indication of matters to come at upcoming year’s Olympic Video games. I have been dreaming of that second when I can once again go for Olympic gold. I hope it comes by.”

American-born Mexico softball player Danielle O’Toole on her aim of reaching the Olympics, even if it is really with a further team’s colors: “I just did not want to be 40 or 50 several years aged and regretting that I did not consider and go after my goals.”

Jamaica men’s rugby sevens mentor Stephen Lewis, whose workforce stays hopeful for a distant shot at Tokyo irrespective of logistical setbacks and a sixth-location complete at the Pan American Online games: “They know what it will take now. It can be Okay to dominate the Caribbean, but if you want to go up, we have to acknowledge bigger requirements and aspire to attain them.”

U.S. gold-medal stand-up paddler Connor Baxter, who hopes his event can follow surfing which will debut in Tokyo as an Olympic discipline in 2024: “This is only the start out. This has fired me back up. Like I said, I have been accomplishing it for the past 10 decades, so you get to a specified point of your vocation and I’m even now so youthful, 24 decades of age, but you hit a wall, like ‘OK, why am I performing this? What is actually the which means powering it? I’ve finished it.’ Personally, I am grateful to say I have accomplished a good deal of my ambitions and a great deal –of my achievements I’ve set out for. But coming out right here to the Pan American Games has really lit the hearth for me to place my head back down, teach challenging and have hopes for a attainable likelihood of currently being in the Olympic Game titles.

ESPN’s Alfonso Duro and Eric Gomez contributed to this report.

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