OLYMPIC 2004 bronze medallist George Bovell III feels sorry for the athletes who had to delay either their 2010 Tokyo Olympics dreams or participation by a year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the 36-year-old legendary swimmer made it clear that this episode can be a reality check for a number of athletes since there is more to life than the Olympics.

The Tokyo Games, which were originally carded from July 24 to August 9, 2020, will now take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

Bovell III finished third in the men’s 200-metre individual medley at the Athens Olympics, becoming the lone TT Olympic swimming medallist.

During a recent interview, Bovell III, who competed in five Olympics (2000 in Melbourne, Australia; 2004; 2008 in Beijing, China; 2012 in London, England and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), said, “It’s very unfortunate. I feel sorry for all those athletes who sacrificed so much, trained so hard and some of them who take on lots of debts and spend years after the Olympics paying off.

“It’s very sad to see their hopes and dreams crushed like that, and have to postpone everything by a year.

However, Bovell III said, “A lot of athletes after the Olympics, experience something called ‘post-Olympics depression’. It’s where after the Olympics, they’re lost, they don’t know what to do next. They cannot even see beyond the Olympics.

“They’re not even living in reality. They’re living in illusions, this kind of collective psychosis as Olympics being the most important thing in the universe. I think this is a reality check. If you fail to live with reality, reality would come and live with you, and you’re not ready for it.”

The former men’s 200m IM short-course world record holder added, “I think this, for a lot of athletes who have very unhappy lifestyles, mentally unhealthy, very unhappy people, it puts things in perspective. The Olympics is not life or death, it’s just sports and something (we) do because (we) love it. If you need to (get) a medal in the Olympics to prove that you are a champion, if you need that external validation then, deep down inside, you are a loser.

“If you are secure with yourself, you understand who you are and you understand your limitations, you wouldn’t need any external validation. You don’t need anybody else to tell you you’re great. There are a lot of Olympic gold medallists who, deep down inside, still feel like losers.”

Bovell III, who was inducted into the First Citizens Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame on Sunday, continued, “You need to be secure with yourself and say are you really doing it for the Olympic status and can show off on social media, because that is a big illusion, or are you doing it because you love it, because it’s a path to self-mastery.

“When you control your mind, you control how you think, you have control over yourself. Instead of your environment and your life dictating how you should feel, you choose how you should feel.”