RALEIGH, N.C. (NEWS10) — Nick Gwiazdowski has represented the United States the past three years. He’s never competed before in the Olympics, but he’s looking to change that in Tokyo. He’ll have to wait a little longer with the 2020 Summer Games postponed, but the local wrestler is taking the news in stride.
“When you have a date on the calendar circled, you’re looking forward to that,” Gwiazdowski explained. For the freestyle wrestler, that date was fast approaching. He won a gold medal at the Pan American Olympic qualifier less than two weeks ago, giving the United States an Olympic berth for the 125 kg weight class, but he’d still need to qualify himself. The United States Olympic Wrestling Trials were originally set for April 4, and he felt good about his chances.
“I felt great. I was in great mental space. My body felt great after competitions. I was focused. I was ready to go,” he said, adding that he had the mental edge over his competition too. “There would be no one that I’m competing against that has beaten me in competition.”
The Duanesburg native is healthy and primed for peak performance. So pushing back the 2020 Tokyo Games doesn’t play in his favor. His response to the decision was more logical than emotional.
“A little disappointed of course, but it is what it is,” the two-time NCAA champion said. “Not gonna do anything to cry about it. It’s out of my control. I can just control myself and I’ll continue to do that and stay positive.”
Staying positive comes a little easier with some added perspective.
“I just need to remember it’s larger than myself. It’s the entire world. And I may not be the demographic that can get sick, but I can make other people sick and that would not sit well with me.”
For now, Gwiazdowski awaits a new date to circle on the calendar. When it comes, he and his coaches will create a plan of attack. Until then, he’s staying active, keeping up his strength, and hoping the adjusted schedule will leave a two-to-three-month window to get back to his typical twice-a-day training regimen at his alma mater North Carolina State before the Olympic trials, so he can build himself back to where he is now.
“If I’m healthy, I should be able to beat them,” he said, which would punch his ticket to Tokyo. And despite the disappointment now, he thinks the quality there will outweigh the inconvenience.
“[Fans will] get the best possible product when they go to watch. They’re not gonna get a watered down product of people that have been sitting on the couch or doing jumping jacks in their garage for the last two months.”