Shelina Zadorsky on Olympic Postponement and NWSL Uncertainty


Shelina Zadorksy plays as a defender for both the Orlando Pride of the NWSL and the Canada women’s national team. With the CWNT, Zadorsky won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Below, she discusses Canada’s decision (before the games were officially postponed) to withhold athletes from the Tokyo Olympics, as well as how she’s both training under quarantine and handling the uncertainty surrounding the start of the NWSL season.

What did you think of Canada’s decision to announce its withdrawal from the Olympics ahead of the official cancellation? What was your overall impression of how the Canadian Olympic Committee handled the situation? 

Canada made the right move with the COC. Everything going on in the world is bigger than sports. The safety of the athletes and all those involved is most important. I’m proud of how the COC handled themselves and proud that other countries followed suit. Obviously, the IOC wanted to keep the games. They had to react to everything in real time, so I understand why they were a little slow, but they ultimately made the right call. I’m also very thankful the games were postponed and not cancelled.

Walk us through the moment when you heard the games were officially being pushed back. What was going through your head?

Because we already had all the build up, and the COC had already pulled out, when the final decision was announced I think I mostly felt relief. Obviously, it would have been really difficult to have had the games and not been a part of it, even if we knew it was the right call by Canada and the other countries to keep their athletes home. So ultimately, I just felt relief knowing everyone was on the same page.

What have the conversations been like between you and your Canadian teammates throughout all this? 

Our conversations and communication have been really positive. Throughout the whole process, both the leadership group within our team and our coaches have been really open and transparent in their conversations with us. Mostly, we’ve just been checking in to make sure everyone is okay and feels supported during this time. We’re even doing video workouts together!

How does being quarantined impact your training both personally and as a team?

Obviously, not being on the field with your team and feeling like you’re not getting better to play a 90 minute game with your team is really hard as an athlete. But in this time, you just have to focus on what you can do. We had a Zoom workout with around 20 of us earlier led by my CNT strength and conditioning coach. I am also lucky to live in a warm place (Orlando) where I can social distance but still run and do some speed, agility and ball work outside.  I have also been slowly adding pieces to my home gym so I can do workouts inside — I just got a stationary bike, which is pretty exciting.

There is some clarity around when the Olympics will happen, but still no clarity on when the NWSL season will start. Are you just focused on staying fit as you possibly can?

Yes and no… Right now it’s about managing our energy with a lot of unknowns.  Basically, I want to just stay mentally and physically prepared to go into a pre-season at a moment’s notice. But I also know there’s no clear timeline, so I have to focus on not getting burned out. I try to make small gains every day.

How has your life off the field been affected by the pandemic?

I’ve always known that I’m a social person, and I really have felt that in this time. I really love being around people and having that community so isolating can be really difficult. Obviously, it’s what we need to do to get to the other side of this. So I’m talking on the phone more, and I’ve become really thankful for FaceTime and having the ability to check in with people that are far away.

Anything else you would like to share?

Just that we all need to do our part and socially distance so we can get past this and get back to doing what we love. But also that while we’re in these tough times, I think we can learn a lot about ourselves and what’s really important to us.