Olympians join the fight against COVID-19

Some Olympians have successfully combined medical studies or nursing with their sporting careers, while others have switched to health work after retirement.

Argentina's reigning 48kg judo champion Paula Pareto is one of those who have joined the effort.    -  Getty Images

At a time when the world has come to a standstill due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Olympic champions have stepped forward to join the battle against the pandemic.

Some have successfully combined medical studies or nursing with their sporting careers, while others have switched to health work after retirement.

Argentina's reigning 48kg judo champion Paula Pareto is one of those who have joined the effort. After spending two weeks in self-isolation following the Yekaterinburg Grand Slam, Pareto returned to the San Isidro Hospital just north of Buenos Aires where she works as an orthopaedic doctor.

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"We are the masters of our fate. The task which has been set us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause and an unconquerable willpower, victory will be within our grasp."

Referring to her own circumstances, she added, "Although orthopaedic doctors are not on the front line, we are a part of the health team facing this pandemic and we will help where necessary.

According to Olympic Channel, Hayley Wickenheiser and Joyce Sombroek are the other champions confronting the pandemic head-on.

Former Dutch hockey goalie Sombroek, a gold medallist at London 2012 and silver medallist at Rio 2016, is helping the effort in her homeland.

File picture of Joyce Sombroek.   -  AFP

 

One of the most successful goalkeepers in history, Sombroek was forced to retire after Rio due to recurring hip problems. After that, she completed her medical studies at Amsterdam's Vrjie Universiteit and has worked in departments including Emergency Rooms before beginning her training as a GP in March.

That is on the backburner for now because of the COVID-19 pandemic with the 29-year-old telling FIH, "The most important thing is providing care to those who need it. I’m really happy that I can do my job, and I think that accounts for everyone working in healthcare or other vital job."

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Jo Brigden-Jones found out only last week that she would be going to her second Olympic Games. The Australian sprint kayaker competed at London 2012 but narrowly missed out on Rio 2016.

After the disappointment of Rio, she started working full time in her "dream career" as a paramedic for NSW Ambulances and has since combined this with training and motivational speaking.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, Brigden-Jones told ABC Grandstand that she had been instructed to leave Sydney for the Gold Coast for intensive training ahead of Tokyo 2020.

But the postponement of the Games meant that move was shelved, and she has returned to work as a paramedic where she is transporting people suffering from Coronavirus.

Two-time Scottish curling champion Vicky Wright has returned to nursing having been due to compete in Canada at the World Curling Championships.

Wright, who now plays lead in Sochi 2014 bronze medallist Eve Muirhead's rink, flew out with the team to Prince George before the event was cancelled.

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