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Cat Osterman, Monica Abbott Talk Olympics Postponement

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(Photo by USA Softball)

On March 24, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Olympic organizers agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Games due to the recent worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

The decision meant that thousands of Tokyo Games hopefuls around the world would have to delay their Olympic dreams for the foreseeable future.

For USA Softball pitchers Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, who both have previous experience at the Summer Games, the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics raises several questions.

See Softball America's full conversation with Osterman and Abbott below.

Softball America: What are your initial reactions to the Olympics being postponed?

Cat Osterman: I’m bummed, but I fully expected this. So, mentally, I think I can wrap my head around it. Physically, I’ve been preparing as if we were going to stay on course, but mentally, I was waiting for this news. I just didn’t see how they would put athletics over health and safety.

As soon as we got home from our Olympic tour on March 12, my husband and I had a conversation. If it gets postponed, what does that look like? He was like, “You’re still going to go.” I just had to make sure I included my family in the decision.

Monica Abbott: When the tour got postponed, I knew it was coming and I thought it was a smart decision. At the time, only three games got canceled from our tour and we were on a little bit of a break at that point. Once it got canceled after that break, it brought up all the what-ifs. I didn’t want to think about them because the what-ifs aren’t in my control.

SA: What are the general feelings surrounding USA Softball about this decision?

CO: It’s a bummer and there are a lot of questions about what the future looks like, but I think for the long-term future we all know that it’s better for the health and safety of everyone.

MA: Everyone is very resilient and positive and continuing on their workouts and on their grind to be at their best. We’re all just dealing with the circumstances that we have. We're a very mature group and a very resilient group. We all probably need a little bit of time to heal and process this mentally, and then plan out what we want to do next and how we’re going to attack it, but our team is very resilient.

SA: How are you, personally, handling this news?

CO: I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and I’ve just been through life a little bit because I feel like if I were Cat from '04 or '08, I might have had a different perspective. I look at it all a little bit differently now.

MA: I think just having perspective is really important right now. It is a little bit hard, but knowing Japan, they will do everything they can to have a Games there before July 2021. It’s just figuring out when is the biggest question. I don’t feel like it’s earth-shattering. It still feels like there’s hope.

SA: Age is a big thing that's often talked about in the narrative with both of you. How do you feel about likely being 38 (Osterman) and 36 (Abbott), respectively, at the next Olympics?

CO: If we medal, then I will be one of the oldest U.S. Olympians to medal at the Olympics. It’s kind of crazy. I know I’m older and I know that my body sometimes feels like it’s older, but I think that would be a pretty cool feat. If I’m able to do it, then it’s something that I will gladly accept. Now my age and my jersey number will match.

MA: In some ways with the delay, it makes me think about putting my life on hold for another year. In other ways, it’s pretty cool. If I am capable and if my body is functioning well to be able to perform at the level that I want to be able to compete at, I don’t think it’s an issue.

SA: How will this delay impact your training?

CO: I don’t have to necessarily try to keep in game shape because we have more time, but I do think a lot of that will be answered once we know what is happening with USA Softball. Softball-wise, I’ll pull back from pitching a little bit, which is nice because I’ll probably go back to working on fine-tuning some things.

Physically, outside of that, I’m still going to continue to train just so that my body stays in a good state. If I stop that, I’m really going to feel old when I try to pick it up again.

MA: I’ll still train, but just scale things back in terms of the intensity level for right now. I’m still going to try to build muscle and increase endurance and core strength, but I’ll have more time to manage my aches and pains.

As far as pitching goes, I’ll probably take a little break and then manage arm conditioning until we find out the timeframe of things.

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