The 2020 Summer Olympics were tantalizingly close when the pandemic hit last spring. Softball standout Amanda Chidester, wrestling star Myles Amine, and world-champion weightlifter Kate Nye could think of nothing but the chance to win gold in Tokyo. And then, all of a sudden, the world could think of nothing but how to wrestle with and crush COVID-19.
Now, at long last, the three Michigan athletes are ready to shake off the agonizing delays and public health restrictions that forced them to reinvent training regimens. They all head to Japan ready for the postponed Summer Games to begin on July 23. (At press time, the Games were still on, but cancellation remained a possibility.) It won’t be the same, of course — fans aren’t allowed, so family members won’t be there in person, and other COVID-related protocols remain in effect.
Regardless, they’re ready to compete in a round of international competition that may represent a key turning point in the world’s effort to move past the COVID crisis. Here’s what you need to know about the three athletes, who were profiled in the September 2020 issue of Hour Detroit, as you prepare, at long last, to cheer on Team USA.
Sport: Weightlifting, 76-kilogram weight class
Olympic resume: International Weightlifting Federation Female Lifter of the Year for 2019; gold medalist at the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships, Pan American Weightlifting Championships, and Junior World Weightlifting Championships; 2021 silver medal at the Pan American competition.
Her COVID Year: Beyond the cancellation of some competitions, Nye’s routine of working out in her home gym continued impeded. She did not contract the virus. She did, however, suffer a back injury that halted her training in February.
Fun Fact: Nye is an Instagram star (@katherinenye) with 110,000 followers.
How she’s prepping: In March, Nye hired a new coach, Spencer Arnold. Nye
had to re-qualify for Team USA in May because of the much-delayed Olympics and is one of four women on the squad. She also expects to compete in USA Weightlifting’s National Championships from June 25 to July 4 in Detroit before leaving for Tokyo.
How she’d feel if the Games are canceled again: “Personally, I don’t think it will be postponed or canceled again. Full preparations are in effect and the guidelines for a safe and healthy Olympic Games are in place. It won’t be a normal Games experience, but I’m confident they will go on as scheduled. We’ll be tested every four days and must use a phone app that will track our movements, but American weightlifters will be staying at a different location than the Olympic Village, which will be nice.”
Sport: Wrestling, 86-kilogram freestyle category
Olympic resume: Two-time state champion at Detroit Catholic Central High School; four-time All-American at the University of Michigan, where he has a 95-19 lifetime record; fifth-place finish at the 2019 World Championships; silver medal at the European Championships in Rome in February 2020 followed by a bronze at the same competition in April 2021.
His COVID Year: Amine trained during the lockdowns with his brother, Malik, a former U-M wrestler, at his parents’ home in Brighton as well as in the garage of a cousin who was also one of Amine’s U-M teammates. The pandemic took a toll on the family, though; he and several relatives tested positive, and an uncle died from the disease. In December, NCAA wrestling competitions resumed; Amine amassed an 11-1 record.
Fun facts: Amine is a dual citizen of the U.S. and San Marino and will represent the tiny European country in Tokyo.
How he’s prepping: Amine competed in a pre-Olympic tournament in Warsaw in June before heading to Japan in early July.
How he’d feel if the Games are canceled again: “That is something that is out of my control, and life goes on. Obviously, I would be disappointed but I know my journey is bigger than one wrestling competition. With that being said, this is something I’m really looking forward to and I know my preparation will pay off when the time comes.”
From: Allen Park
Olympic resume: Three-time All-State team at Allen Park Cabrini, two-time University of Michigan All-American, and a combined 10 World Championship, World Cup, and Pan American Games medals for Team USA.
Her COVID year: Chidester, in Seattle on a pre-Olympic tour when the pandemic hit, lived for three months at her brother’s home in California and in July moved to Chicago to join a new pro softball league, Athletes Unlimited. After the season — interrupted for her by a quarantine amid an asymptomatic bout with COVID-19 — ended in October, she and girlfriend Anissa Urtez moved to Draper, Utah, and later announced their engagement on Instagram.
Fun fact: Urtez is on Mexico’s Olympic softball squad, so they may compete in Tokyo.
How she’s prepped for Tokyo: Team USA resumed its training in early 2021 and held exhibition games in Florida this spring against other national teams, including Mexico’s. Team USA went 7-0, with Chidester batting an impressive .409.
How she’d feel if the Games are canceled again: ”Our mindset is that they are full go. No room for what ifs at this point. We are all in, working hard and ready to play in Tokyo.”