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Postcards From The Pandemic: Olympic Rower's Gold Medal Chase Delayed

The COVID-19 pandemic halted the entire sports world from the NCAA Final Four to Major League Baseball's Opening Day to arguably the biggest sporting event in the world — the 2020 Olympic Games.

On March 24, the International Olympic Committee postponed the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to 2021. 


Olympic hopefuls now have to train for another year before getting a shot to compete on the world's biggest stages, or bays in the case of rower and Cleveland native Felice Mueller.

"I knew it was the right call to make for so many different reasons. But, obviously, I have been training for these games for the last three and a half years and for them to get postponed was really disorienting," Mueller said.


Mueller grew up in Cleveland and currently lives and trains in Princeton, New Jersey. [Felice Mueller]

The Day The News Broke

On the day it got postponed, I read a headline in the morning while I was eating my oatmeal and saw that it had gotten postponed. 

I couldn't do it, you know. It was really hard.

You could kind of see it coming, but then when it did come it seemed like it was really, really fast. 

The Last Dance

The training just takes up your whole life, and I think me and my fiance were really excited about starting to do something else.

I had the plan to hang up my oars and say goodbye to competitive rowing.


Mueller is engaged to fellow rower John Graves. [Felice Mueller]

Quarantine In Cleveland

A member of our support staff did actually end up getting coronavirus and some of our teammates also who had had contact with him also got coronavirus.

So we all had to separately quarantine. 

My dad has this separate little house in the back of his place, so I decided to come here and just isolate by myself rather than with other people. 

It has been nice since my fiance and I have gotten out of quarantine to be able to spend some time with my stepmom and dad who are here. And I have seen my mom briefly, which is really nice.


Mueller trains indoors while social distancing in Cleveland. [Felice Mueller]

Teammate Separation

It's been hard to connect with our teammates at this time because we all kind of had to go our separate ways and quarantine ourselves in different places. 

It's been hard to kind of share in the disappointment and be there for one another. 

The games got postponed, but we can't even be with the people we've been trying to get there with and commiserate together and talk about it together. 


I'd say there is a silver lining. Every year is a new tryout period.

Some people, this is kind of a blessing. There have been athletes who have been injured a lot or younger athletes who don't have as much experience.

I think another year of being able to train and get stronger and more experience is really beneficial for them. 

The team that would have maybe been this year will look different next year. 


Mueller met President Barack Obama after competing in the 2016 Olympic Games. [Felice Mueller]

My hope is that 2021 is an incredible games and goes off without a hitch. 

The fact that there is going to be a games next year hopefully will just kind of, people will forget it was in 2021.

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