March 31st, 2020

Home the right place for Watson

By Medicine Hat News on March 21, 2020.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sage Watson poses for a photo at the family ranch near Seven Persons Thursday.

Whether the Tokyo Olympics happen on time, late or not at all, Sage Watson will be ready.

The 25-year-old professional track and field athlete returned home a week ago, glad to be home on the family ranch near Seven Persons and practising hurdles on the gravel road where she grew up.

“I’m going to continue to prepare for outdoor season even if the Olympics get cancelled, because I still think there is a possibility to do competitions or meets in July or August,” Watson, the reigning Canadian champion in the 400 metre hurdles, told the News Wednesday morning.

“Even if all the meets do get cancelled for this year, I would still be training right now to keep my fitness up for next year.

“Even if I couldn’t train at all, I would still be watching hurdle videos, reading about track and field or watching past races, just to keep me motivated for the future and keep myself learning and growing in my career.

“I want to encourage people to still do the best you can with whatever your job or career or work is, keep working towards it. Maybe not now, maybe not in a few months, but eventually everything will continue going on. Keep prepared and ready to get back to normal.”

Watson knows she’s in a lucky situation amid the global pandemic that has shut down everyday life for many. It’s calving season at the Watson Cattle Company, and you’d better believe one of the newborns got named Sage. Life is pretty normal aside from the fact she’s usually busy training down south.

But she does have to isolate for another week after flying home from Arizona where she lives and trains.

She was one of the few wearing an N95 mask on the airplane last Friday, given to her by a doctor in the Phoenix area.

“It was a horrible feeling having to wear a mask,” she said. “It was really hard because the looks from people were really concerning.”

With a grandfather who recently had open-heart surgery and parents who are in the range COVID-19 seems to be affecting most seriously, there’s no way Watson’s taking any chances.

But she does note that here in Medicine Hat, we’re lucky to have lots of open spaces and running paths to stay active while still practising social distancing.

“I think that’s something people are forgetting: you can still go outdoors, just keep your distance from others,” she said. “We’re lucky to live in Medicine Hat, kind of a rural area because there’s lots of space for us to go outdoors versus people who are living in big cities like Toronto, it’s really hard not to walk down the street and pass somebody.”

Watson was in Toronto when news of the pandemic started to make waves. After returning to Phoenix she told her parents she’d be home if there was any inkling the borders could be closing.

Given she’s home for a few weeks around Christmas anyhow, setting up the new training regimen was easy. She set up a home gym, is in constant contact with coach Fred Harvey, and with the first three Diamond League meets cancelled doesn’t have to worry about ramping up her regimen until there’s some sunlight on the calendar’s horizon.

“The thing is in Arizona right now, all the facilities I train at are university facilities, they’re in the process of shutting them down,” said Watson. “I’m better off training here at home in Canada than I would be down in Arizona.”

Watson set a new Canadian record of 54.32 seconds in the 400 hurdles at last year’s world championships in Doha, Qatar. She helped Canada’s 4×400 metre relay team to a fourth-place finish in her first Olympics four years ago in Rio.

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