COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - When the boxers of the USA Boxing Olympic Qualification Team arrived in Colorado Springs, Colorado. this week they walked into a new training facility with just over six months left until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021, and even less time to their qualification tournaments.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USA Boxing athletes have not been allowed to train in the national boxing gym at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center (USOPTC) since March 2020 and have had to continue to make adjustments to their training plans, which included training at the French National Training Center in Paris in late 2020.
After being told they would not be allowed to begin 2021 at the USOPTC, the coaching and national office staff had to find a new home to begin the final preparations for the qualification tournaments taking place in May and June.
"After spending most of 2020 waiting to be allowed entry back into our national gym at the Colorado Springs OPTC, it was time that we took matters into our own hands and established a training space that can properly accommodate our team's training needs," said Matt Johnson, USA Boxing High Performance Director.
USA Boxing ended 2020 and the beginning of 2021 moving all equipment, which included four boxing rings, numerous heavy bags and strength and conditioning equipment, from their gym at the USOPTC to an abandoned department store in a mall in Colorado Springs to hold training camps, while housing the boxers and coaching staff at the nearby Hotel Eleganté.
"We are able to continue to move forward in this COVID environment by applying multi-layer protection protocols, pre-travel testing, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, regular cleaning, regular rapid antigen testing, daily health surveys and follow up PRC pool testing, as well as provide a top notch training facility in our temporary facility, which we are greatly thankful for John Bushman, owner of Hotel Eleganté and the training facility, to help provide these opportunities to our boxers," stated Mike McAtee, USA Boxing Executive Director.
"The training facility and environment we have created has greatly reduced the risk to our boxers and coaches. USA Boxing strives to fulfill our stated mission to our boxers, '... (to) inspire the tireless pursuit of Olympic gold and enable our boxers and coaches to achieve sustained competitive excellence...' in the face of a worldwide pandemic."
The first training camp of 2021 began Jan. 14 and will run until Feb. 18, before the boxers head to Bulgaria and Spain for international competitions. USA Boxing will hold the final training camp before the America's Olympic Qualification Tournament at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, in Chula Vista, Calif., in another makeshift boxing gym, which held the final training camp of 2020 in November.