Preparation for the Tokyo Olympics has been 'glaringly different' to previous Games, American gold medalist says

Preparation for the Tokyo Olympics has been 'glaringly different' to previous Games, American gold medalist says
Melissa Seidemann.Getty/Lintao Zhang
  • Preparation for the Tokyo Olympics has been "glaringly different" to previous Games.
  • That's according to USA Women's Water Polo star Melissa Seidemann.
  • Seidemann says the team has been playing against high school boys because they aren't able to travel.

The USA Women's Water Polo team has won gold at each of the last two Olympics Games.

Winning a third in a row at the delayed Tokyo Games this summer, however, will be more difficult than ever due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the team's preparations.

"It's just so different than what it's ever been," Melissa Seidemann, who won gold i London and Rio de Janeiro, told Insider. "It's [been] glaringly different."
"Normally, we see just about every team that we're going to play in the Olympic Games at some point for a week or two week training just with that team," she added.

"But now, we haven't seen some of these teams in a year-and-a-half and there's a very good possibility that we will not see them until the Olympic Games.

"In terms of preparation, that's the biggest hurdle that we're going to have to overcome. When you go into an Olympic Games, you want to know exactly what the other team is going to do, you want to know exactly what those other players are going to do.

"We can learn by watching video. But the best learning is when you know, you get to get your hands dirty and get in there.

"I know one of the things that we really took pride in in 2012, and 2016, was that we were incredibly prepared for those games. So I think just there is going to be more of a feeling of unease."
Preparation for the Tokyo Olympics has been 'glaringly different' to previous Games, American gold medalist says
Seidemann at 2016 Games in Brazil.Getty/Adam Pretty
With games against opposing nations continually "falling through" because of restrictions, Seidemann says the team has instead been playing against high school boys instead.

"It's just to see somebody different and have to adapt to a different style of play," she said, adding that the team has also been changing pool locations randomly in order to mix things up.

"We train five, six, or seven days a week, at the same pool," Seidemann added. "So we've just [been] trying to get out of our comfort zone and see new pools, have different referees come on, and then, whenever we can, bring in a new team or a person so that there's someone new that we can compete against."

The summer will also be strange

As strange as preparations have been for Seidemann and her teammates, the 30-year-old Stanford University alumni says this summer will be just as odd.

With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, international fans are not allowed to visit Tokyo for the Games.

With Tokyo also in a state of emergency, the Games' president Seiko Hashimoto recently admitted they may be forced to go ahead without any fans at all.

Seidemann says although she is grateful for the decision to keep foreign fans safe, specifically her family, their absence will be a hit to the team.
"They came out and said no foreign spectators at the games, and it was a long time coming. We kind of expected it to happen," said Seidemann. "But that's a that's a big blow.

"That's a lot of energy that doesn't come into the games. For us specifically, we love having our family and friends there.

"My perspective to the team was somebody made the decision to keep our families safe. And we have to be grateful for that. Because it takes one element out of it for us, you know, we don't have to worry our parents out eating at a restaurant getting COVID.

"Are they not making it through the public transportation system? All these different factors. It's a distraction. We don't have to think about, instead, we just get to focus on playing on the game."