Pandemic knocks out Japanese boxer's Olympic dream

During the day, 27-year-old Arisa Tsubata is a nurse at a psychiatric clinic, but as soon as shift ends, she slips her hands into boxing gloves and trains to win Olympic gold.

She even left her job at a major hospital to work at a smaller clinic, so she could devote more time to her boxing career.

Unfortunately, her dreams have been crushed, as the qualifying rounds were cancelled due to the global health crisis.

"When I got a phone call from the boxing federation and was told that (the qualifying) was cancelled, I felt very disappointed. I had been working so hard for a year after the postponement of the Olympics, and it's so frustrating that I don't even have the right to compete.”

Normally, boxers like Tsubata who aren’t globally ranked would have a fighting chance to qualify into the Olympics.

But with delays caused by the pandemic, competitors will be chosen according to global rankings since 2017.

Although it's the end of the road for Tsubata who trained years to reach this level of competition, she’s hasn't given up hope in her career.

"I can't say I'm aiming for the next Olympics in Paris at this point, but what I can do is try to keep working hard, step by step, at any competitions ahead, small or big. If I can keep up my efforts until the Paris Olympics, then I will aim for it."

Her feelings of frustration and uncertainty echoes the sentiment of many athletes stuck in career limbo thanks to the pandemic, but now she is aiming for the next Olympics.

Training early morning and late night between shifts, the boxer-nurse will make her first international debut at a tournament later this month in Russia and says she will attend any competition, big or small.

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