March 25, 2020 6:55:14 PM
Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose has welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo Games and pledged to make the “necessary sacrifices” to ensure he can defend his title in 2021.
The IOC and Japanese organisers announced on Tuesday that the Games were being delayed until next year because of the worsening effect of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe.
The men’s golf event had been due to start on Rose’s 40th birthday on July 30.
“For me it didn’t really matter when they postponed it, as a golfer I was going to be ready to play for my first event back, whenever it is,” Rose told the PA news agency in a phone interview from his home in the Bahamas.
“Whereas I think track and field athletes for example, their training is so linear in the sense of input versus output and if you have some countries in lockdown and some that aren’t, there is a huge discrepancy in how athletes can train so I felt it was the right call sooner rather than later so everyone knew where they stood.
“Everyone can now refocus, regroup, readjust their training and not stress out any more than they need to about everyday health.
“I’ll make the necessary sacrifices to my schedule to make 2021 Olympics a priority of mine.
“It’s something that’s been an amazing gift to my career and to be announced on the first tee for so long as the Olympic champion is something special and I get it for an extra year now.
“Another year’s bragging rights which is really going to frustrate my fellow pros. I think they were getting pretty fed up with it to be honest!”
Rose’s alleged obsession with his gold medal was memorably mocked by impressionist Conor Moore in a team-bonding video ahead of the Ryder Cup in Paris in 2018.
And asked if he had the medal to hand, Rose joked: “As we speak yes, but I am at home so deserve a bit more slack please.
“I did a Skype interview in the last day or so so it was appropriate to have it on hand, but to be fair it’s been retired for a good couple of years now up in my golf room and collecting the appropriate amount of dust.”
Rose will need to be in the top 15 in the world to guarantee his place in Tokyo and the former world number one is currently 14th after three missed cuts in his last four starts.
The 39-year-old also carded an opening 75 at Sawgrass before the Players Championship was cancelled and has since been at home in the Bahamas, which is now in lockdown.
“I’ve been really trying to use it as a time to do as much practice as I can, try to refocus on my fitness,” Rose added.
“I think how you handle this next month or two is really going to dictate maybe the next six months to a year.
“My season wasn’t going particularly well so in some ways it was nice to pull the ripcord from that point of view and change the story. It gives me an opportunity to really move I suppose and come back strong.
“It’s also given me some valuable family time. Everyone leads very hectic lives so a slightly slower pace of life is also something I’m trying to embrace at the moment and just trying to look at the positives.
“I’m trying to get my kids into golf and Charlotte bunted a little driver into the hole from about 60 yards yesterday so she’s absolutely buzzing. As my son Leo is very quick to tell her it was the luckiest shot ever, but a little moment like that suddenly gets the golf bug going.”