It’s no secret that a lot of people are hurting emotionally, physically and economically due to the lasting effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It has been roughly 11 months since the initial outbreak was reported to the World Health Organization by Chinese officials, but it feels much longer than that. Since then, over a million people have tragically lost their lives and many more have suffered financially. Countries are constantly having to change their approach to handle the virus, resulting in many restrictions in various industries and the cancellation of many high-profile events.
Here in Japan, a lot has been made about the economic impact on the Japanese government and tax payers due to the delayed Tokyo 2020 games. There have been countless reports about the financial effects of pushing the game back by a year, with estimates ranging from 800 million to 6 billion. While this certainly needs to be talked about, we know that what makes the Olympics and Paralympic games truly captivating are the individuals and their stories.
It’s often forgotten that many of those who compete in the games are not ultra-wealthy professional athletes. In fact, while vast majority of sports at the Olympics – excluding boxing and wrestling – allow for professionals to compete, a large percentage of competitors still are classified as amateur. That being said, it’s important to note, while athletes may be classified as amateur, that doesn’t mean that they can’t receive funding. From 1971 onwards the IOC decided that amateurs could receive funding from national entities.
For Canadian athletes, they can receive financial backing from the federal government through Sport Canada and each sport’s governing body. But to be funded you need to be carded, and those who aren’t are reliant on themselves to produce the funding required to compete at the Olympic Games. Something Canadian Olympian and registered nurse Noelle Montcalm has become all too aware of.
“I have been fortunate in the past to be “carded” under this (Sport Canada) system, however due to a poor season in 2019, I lost this funding, and thus the reason for my self fundraiser this year.”
According to the National Post in 2016, all Canadian senior-carded members received 1500$ a month, however this varied tremendously across members. To put that in contrast, carded members in the U.K received 45, 000$ annually prior to 2016. This means many Canadian athletes, even if they receive funding from the government, most likely need to produce another avenue of income.
Montcalm is currently working as a nurse in the student clinic at the University of Windsor in Ontario Canada. Covid-19 has impacted her life twofold, leaving much uncertainty, to her normally structured and balanced lifestyle.
“I will be honest, back at the beginning of this year, it was difficult,” Montcalm said. “There were so many unanswered questions just as far as the virus itself, and then surrounding the Games. It hit me mentally because I felt like I just didn’t know what to do, what was right. On top of that, I felt a little guilty for not being “on the front line” even though I am an RN.”
Montcalm, a Canadian athlete specialising in the 400 meter hurdle competed in 2016, representing Canada at the Rio Olympic Games. Her preparation leading into 2016 started in 2012, as she began making the switch to 400m hurdles from shorter distances. Despite the Olympics being a quadrennial event, Montcalm and her coach approached training year by year, knowing there is always uncertainty. With that being said, very few could have predicted what was in store for 2020.
This year Montcalm was down in Florida in February for her usual training camp during Winter. However, shortly afterwards the world began to shut down. The next two months became incredibly difficult to train as doubt in the games proceeding as scheduled began to strengthen, until they were officially canceled on March 24th.
Training facilities became more scarce around Canada as private facilities and universities began to close. Athletes have had to resort to training at their local high school tracks, or keeping in shape at home. However with the games officially reschedule for July 23rd 2021, the training regiment for competitors will have to move forward and so too the costs.
Some athletes have decided to get creative with their fundraising this year, including Montcalm. She opted to offer something she’s passionate about to her supporters and fans in exchange for donations.
“I have developed both a book and a calendar,” Montcalm explained. “They each contain the same 12 recipes. These are recipes I prepare frequently in my own kitchen and I love the ability to share this with those who have always so generously supported and encouraged me over the years. The book version contains additional training and meal prep tips.”
Montcalm is asking for minimum donations of 55.40$ in exchange for the book or calendar. If you are curious as to why this number exactly, it represents the entry mark time for female Olympic 400m hurdles.
The funds will be used towards pending training camps and competitions, including travel expenses and entry fees. This on top of regular membership fees, equipment, and therapy costs. The necessities for any Olympic hopeful.
The recipes focus on healthy and nutrient filled meals that Montcalm personally uses to get her through her training regiment. But healthy doesn’t mean boring and includes tasty treats as well; Noelle’s personal favourite sweet treat being the coconut date bars.
The book option also comes with other tips for both competitive and recreational athletes. They include Montcalm’s important prehab and rehab routines, which are critical to maximizing performance and avoiding injury.
If you wish to support Noelle in her quest to once again represent Canada at the delayed Tokyo 2020 games, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with her handle @noellemontcalm. You can also reach her with inquiries through her email at email@example.com.
If you wish to contact me, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org