Credit: Serena Repice Lentini

Longing for sport’s return

By Claire Thomson

With so much of sport halted for so long, there are few more exciting prospects than thinking of what we will be able to do once normality returns.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit sport hard. I have to admit that throughout my life, like many others, I have always taken sport for granted. People say you don’t miss something until it’s gone, and in this case, for me, that couldn’t be more accurate. I hadn’t realised how big a role sport played in my life and I think it’s more than fair to say that a return to normality is more than needed after a long year of uncertainty and restrictions. With the vaccine rollout progressing at speed, the question of “what are you looking forward to most once life resumes?” is one of the first to be brought up in conversation. As both a sports participant and sports fan, my list of experiences that I’m looking forward to in the near future happens to be extensive and on many scales. From being able to swim in a pool full of chlorine again to travelling abroad to watch major sporting events, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel that we can all count the days down until. 

Since I was seven years old, I have swum competitively in a swimming club, training for over 12 hours in the pool every week and racing in competitions most weekends. Whilst my journey through swimming has certainly not been easy, I have always had access to a swimming pool and the opportunity to chase my dreams and challenge my potential. However, with lockdown resulting in the closure of all leisure facilities, this was taken away from me for the first time ever in my swimming career and having dedicated my childhood to the sport, I had no backup. I hate not being able to dive in the pool and feel free, and this is definitely the thing I am longing for the most. Not only did swimming provide me with a chance to prove myself and stay fit, but it was also an escape from the pressures of exams, school, university. Something I never had growing up in small, local swimming clubs was a team. I spent many weekends away at competitions with only my mum and I was forced to make friends and interact with people from other clubs.

However, swimming for the University has given me that team that I had longed for when I was younger, as well as some amazing friends and even flatmates. I am really looking forward to when we can all train together again, have our post-training sauna chats, compete in league matches and BUCS and team travel across the country. Sport, through its ups and downs, successes and failures, has brought us all together and formed an unbreakable bond, and I can’t wait to have more fun and make more memories both in the pool and out.

Looking beyond my own participation in sport, I am excited for others to have the opportunity to live their sporting dreams and create their own stories, as I take on a different angle and outlook. My younger brother is also massively into sports. As he is under 18, he was lucky enough to be able to still train and play in matches as a junior ice hockey player, however, like with every other sport, these were behind closed doors. For several years now, I have loved watching him play as well as the fast pace of the action-packed sport in general. I am looking forward to being able to sit in the freezing cold ice rink and cheer from the stands to support him in his sport, just like he has for me. 

Furthermore, my love for sport doesn’t stop there and has taken my family and I across the globe. In 2019, we travelled to Brussels to watch the Grand Départ of Le Tour de France. I had such a good week amongst the crowds during the celebrations, team presentations and stages themselves. It had always been a dream of ours as a family to see a stage in the tour as we have watched it every year for as long as I can remember. It has almost become unthinkable to imagine what it would be like to be in a crowd of that magnitude again and whilst the thought is daunting and scares me slightly, I can’t wait for the feeling of being there and part of something big to be normal again. The year before travelling to Belgium, we had gone to Toronto on holiday for a week and were lucky enough to get tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play at home. This was one of the best experiences of my life so far and definitely a bucket list moment to see a live National Hockey League match. There was such a buzz as we were used to just watching our local team in Kirkcaldy play in the Elite Ice Hockey League. I am looking forward to being able to travel, in general, but more specifically these unforgettable moments where sport is the focus above everything else and people are there from all over the world because they want to celebrate and are interested in that sport. 

Yes, you can watch sport on the television and probably see more than you can by being there, but it is the atmosphere that makes it an experience like no other. With a return to sport on the horizon, it is only a matter of time before I get the opportunity to revel in my love for all things sport again. I hope that one day soon, I have the chance to watch, train and compete in sport again for the first time in a long time but for now, all we can do is wait for this much-needed revival of the sporting world.


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