VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Olympic Rugby Stars Perry Baker & Joe Delagrave On Surviving COVID Lockdown
U.S. rugby stars revealed how they prepared for the Olympics from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“First off, you gotta take care of yourself individually like stay on your grind, stay working out, doing the little things like when no one’s watching,” Baker said. He explained that the team split into five-person “bubbles” to practice while in quarantine.
“It was just a lot of passing things, a lot of skillful things that we were doing just to stay active since we could not play and have that competition,” he said. “Like I said, it all depends on what you’re doing individually. So a lot of guys, they were ordering weights and had weights come to their house so they could lift at home, they were doing stuff in parks where they were like actually running and doing our actual technical stuff. So, a lot of stuff that was going on that’s why this Olympics is going to be so sweet for when we get selected to go to it, just because of all the hard work that we actually put in. Like this was nothing where it’s like I was just doing the normal stuff. This was actually stuff where you had to figure out how I’m going to do it and keep your mind strong.
Wheelchair rugby player Delagrave agreed, “Yeah from the wheelchair rugby side, we didn’t see each other for about 10-and-a-half months. And so everything was done on our own right away in the beginning of the pandemic it was Rocky Balboa style just trying to find different ways. I was lifting my kids, bench pressing my wife sometimes, and then slowly getting a gym for at home to be able to train.”
“And then outside, just pushing outside in my neighborhood when the gyms were closed,” he said. “And so I was just kinda dodging people on their bikes and running next to people in the neighborhood and stuff like that. Most people were like ‘Oh, Joe’s out training and doing his thing again,’ and some people were like ‘What’re you doing in that chair? I have no idea what that is.’ And so just explaining to people that I’m not a wheelchair racer. I think a lot of people in wheelchairs get asked the question if they’re a wheelchair racer and I don’t like running so I’d rather play a sport than just run.”
Delagrave said that training during the pandemic came down to “adapting.”
“I think for a lot of us, and you hear it on the able-bodied rugby side, we’re adapters,” he said. “They’ve adapted from playing a different sport and then going into rugby. Same with me, broke my neck when I was 19 and then you adapt and learn to adapt. And I think we’re all adapters as athletes, so I think that’s what we did during the pandemic.”