On the morning of March 23, Jack Flood, his training partners and their coach talked about the possibility of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Minutes later, a notification flashed across one of their phones. The International Olympic Committee announced that the games would be postponed until 2021.
Flood, a 24-year-old Blue Point native, had been training to compete in the decathlon. The competition which features 10 different track and field events was to be held at the U.S. Olympic trials in June.
And while his opportunity to fulfill his dream of earning a trip to the Olympics has been put on hold, he’s glad to have gained some clarity on the situation.
“We all just started laughing because we were just talking about what we were going to do if it did got postponed, and then we found out right after,” Flood said. “It’s kind of a sigh of relief that we have an answer.”
The decathlon is split into a two-day competition, with the first day featuring the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 in sequence. Athletes next compete in the 100-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500-meter run on the second day.
A top-three finish at the trials would have given the 6-5, 210-pound Flood a spot on the U.S. team.
“I think a delay is a blessing because this gives me more time to stay focused, be patient and progress as an Olympic athlete,” Flood said. “I’ll have almost an extra year and a half to get better. And I know I’m still going to progress. It just gives me more time and a better chance to qualify.”
Flood entered the national decathlon scene as a junior at SUNY Cortland in 2016, finishing third at the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships. He finished fourth in the decathlon at the 2016 outdoor national championships. He won the 2017 outdoor national title in the decathlon with 6,998 points.
Flood placed third in the heptathlon, which features seven different track and field events, at the U. S. Track and Field Indoor Championships in 2019 and '20. He finished eighth in the decathlon at the 2019 U.S. Track and Field Outdoor Championships, which qualified him to compete in the Thorpe Cup Games in Germany last September. He finished fourth in the decathlon at the Thorpe Cup Games, his first international meet.
Flood, who is a substitute teacher just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, is now using a nearby high school track as his training ground five days a week.
Flood said the event he’s most focused on improving is the pole vault.
“It’s a tougher demand,” Flood said. “You’re really tired at that point and have to find a way to get up pretty high in the air.”
Flood believes the additional year of waiting could also bring new perspective to both Olympic hopefuls and fans.
“The delay is going to make you appreciate everything more,” Flood said. “I hope most people have the same mindset. So when the Olympics do come, it’s going to be even more special.”