Mandy back in Kitchener — national team training cut short after another athlete tests positive for Covid-19
By Jeff Hicks
KITCHENER — Mandy Bujold is back early. She’s in Kitchener. She’s in isolation.
“It’s not fun but I guess it’s part of the process,” Mandy said on Wednesday.
Waterloo Region’s community champ — determined to win a medal in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics — is in sudden quarantine.
An athlete she had been in close contact with at national team training in Montreal tested positive for Covid-19.
Mandy never tested positive. But she’s following all protocols.
Her contact with the infected athlete came Monday, after her second negative result in a pair of routine tests given over the span of a week.
So Mandy, after driving home from Montreal, is staying at a friend’s empty house. She can’t go home and visit her husband Reid or toddler Kate Olympia.
Kate was so looking forward to giving her mommy a return-home hug on Friday. Her mom had promised she would. Now, that cheerful reunion can’t happen.
It’s been pushed back two weeks — a tear-filled eternity for a toddler.
“That’s the worst part,” said Mandy, who aims to be the first female boxer to fight for Canada at consecutive Olympics.
“My daughter is so smart. She woke up this morning and asked my husband, ‘Am I going to see mommy on Friday after my nap?’ Come Friday, she’s going to be looking for me. I can’t come home right away. How do you explain that to your two-year-old?”
So many pandemic-erected hurdles have already risen in the Olympic path of Mandy and all athletes trying to represent their nations in Japan.
This is just another. That’s how Mandy, an 11-time national champ and fly weight leader of the boxing team, looks at it.
“It’s unfortunate the camp ended early. We didn’t get to do the test matches and the things we went there to do,” said Mandy, whose training in Kitchener will be limited during her quarantine.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s actually a pretty important lesson for us. We now realize how hard it is to manage a group of that size and what each person is doing individually, while you’re in that environment. It’s a lesson that’s better for us to learn right now before we get too close to our qualifiers.”
The continental Americas qualifiers, scrubbed last March when the pandemic’s first wave hit, have been re-set for Argentina from May 10-16.
Mandy doesn’t blame the athlete who tested positive for the isolation situation she finds herself in. Nineteen athletes took part in the Montreal preparatory training in small groups.
“It could have happened to any one of us,” she said of the athlete’s positive test. “We know this spreads really quickly.”
On the bright side, Mandy has some solitary time to consider the Covid lessons of the past week. As a result, Mandy understands better how to structure her training over the next two months.
“As we prepare for the qualifier, we have to make sure I keep my training environment tight — knowing who is entering that environment and why and where they’ve been,” Mandy said.
“It helps us with the planning moving forward.”