Mission native Brent Hayden will have to wait another year to return to the pool at the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee and the 2020 Tokyo Organizing Committee made the announcement on March 24 that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be postponed until no later than the summer of 2021.
Hayden, who has represented Canada in swimming at three different Olympics, was planning to make his return to that stage for the first time since 2012.
Hayden left the sport after capturing bronze in the 100-metre freestyle at the London Olympics in 2012.
Hayden competed in both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics, but back issues hampered his performance at the latter Games.
He still holds Canadian records in the 50, 100 and 200-metre freestyle events.
He previously won gold medals in both 50 and 100-metre freestyle at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, and took first in the 100 at the world aquatic championships in Melbourne, Australia, in 2007.
The news wasn’t a huge shocker for Canadians, as Canada was the first team to announce regardless of if the Games occurred, that they would not be sending a team to Tokyo this summer.
Hayden said it was the right call.
“When I heard the news I had two thoughts,” he said in an interview with Sportsnet 650. “One – I’m super proud of Canada to take the lead and make that initiative. And two – the level of unknowing that has been weighing over the athletes these past couple of weeks, at least in Canada is gone and we can refocus and think about what we can do going forward.”
Hayden said the weeks leading up to the postponement were difficult, with the ability to train hampered by issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also tweeted out on March 25 that he is ready for 2021.
“Sometimes the long road is the one worth taking. Not the comeback story I was hoping for, but one I am willing to take. Looking forward to another year. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy. We are in this together.”
Hayden also told Sportsnet 650 that the extra time could be a positive.
“I’ve been training so well and my body has been feeling stronger than ever before so if I get another year to prepare it could work in my favour,” he said. “It’s more time for me to prepare and I can use the time to my benefit.”
Hayden originally made the announcement of his return back in October.