'It makes everything real': Kelsey-Lee Barber bound for Tokyo Olympic Games

Kelsey-Lee Barber is set hunt a gold medal in Tokyo. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Kelsey-Lee Barber is set hunt a gold medal in Tokyo. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

The Olympic Games finally feel real again.

Kelsey-Lee Barber laughs that is saying something - because this year so little has felt real. Like the road to Tokyo taking a 12-month detour, like the coronavirus pandemic which has caused chaos around the globe.

But finally the javelin world champion has a date to mark on the calendar again. A date to work towards that nobody can take away from her come Thursday morning.

Barber headlines a list of five track and field athletes unveiled on Thursday as part of Australia's squad for next year's Tokyo Olympic Games.

"It just makes everything real and you really can set your sights on your goals for next year now," Barber said.

"With all the disruptions and uncertainty of this year, it's nice to put that marker on the calendar again for next year."

The Tokyo Games are scheduled to begin on July 21 next year after being postponed amid the COVID-19 crisis. In a normal world they would already have been run and won.

Maybe Barber would already have a gold medal nestled somewhere inside her Canberra home. Instead she is adjusting to a new world with another 12 months tacked onto an already gruelling four-year cycle.

The 28-year-old, who boasts a personal best throw of 67.70m, is back at the AIS for training. But strict biosecurity protocols are in place.

Sessions are not allowed to run overtime - you're in and you're out. Athletes are to wear masks around physiotherapists and health departments. Social distancing and cleaning regulations are enforced.

But if this is what it takes, then this is what Barber will do as she turns her attention to a gold medal tilt.

"I definitely think the initial shock of what this year was turning out to be took a few days, but I still support the decision to postpone it," Barber said.

"It just meant our goals shifted. We looked at it from the perspective that the time we were given this year, we could make the most of that."

That means strength gains. It means technique can be almost perfected - at least as close as a perfectionist can get it. The best part about it?

"We've still got a couple more months," Barber said.

"That's why I'm looking forward to being able to come out and compete, we've put some really good work behind me and made the most of the extra training months we were given.

"I'm still really confident going into next year, with the training I have done this year as well as still being a world champion from last year, I can take confidence from the way I performed.

"That doesn't change. I'll absolutely go into next year having that behind me, I will 100 per cent back myself, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to compete again and show that."

Barber has opted out of overseas events this year, leaving her without a competitive outlet until late 2020 at best.

That could mean she relaunches her Olympic bid in her own backyard at an event in Canberra, however even the Australian summer schedule looms as an unknown.

Canberra's world champion javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber. Picture: Karleen Minney

Canberra's world champion javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber. Picture: Karleen Minney

Regulations continue to change and borders are being slammed shut to pose questions about how competitions would be managed.

But Barber says the best thing she can do is simply prepare - because she still sees herself on a podium in Tokyo next year.

"Initially it was a real adjustment trying to work out how to get in all the training requirements we need to do without necessarily having access," Barber said.

"Since we've been back on site at the AIS, things have been pretty consistent and I'm thankful for that. When you can put consistent training together, you're really setting yourself up to perform well.

"I've been really happy with the training blocks I've been able to do. The thing I'm missing most is competition and the lifestyle we get to experience when we travel every year.

"That's the part I'm [yearning] for. I'm looking forward to that all coming together again next year when we can be part of the Diamond League and the European circuit."

This story 'It makes everything real': Barber bound for Tokyo first appeared on The Canberra Times.