No Free Lunch

There is no free lunch, Simon and Mr Matthews got that right! Like most great successes in life, you pay, whether that be out of your own pocket, in hours of training and practice, or in time away from family and friends. It also takes a heart filled with dedication. And all of that has led Simon here, to this cafeteria in the Olympic Village in Tokyo, eating his ramen noodles, protein and veggies inside his individual plastic COVID safety cubicle.

Although he would never have predicted it turning out exactly like this, Simon has been dreaming of the Olympics for many years. And now he is in Tokyo, about to represent Australia in Mixed Doubles Badminton with his partner Gronya under EXTRA extraordinary circumstances. 

With COVID making an enormous difference to how athletes and spectators experience the Games this year, everybody has had to adjust. For instance, the thick safety barriers in the food hall might allow them to communicate, but they have to shout to be heard!

Simon and the team have felt very welcome in Tokyo, with the support of volunteers and staff who have been "amazing." Their hosts have also made the athlete village as 'normal' and comfortable as possible given the circumstances. 

"They've made Aus HQ as home-like as possible. Whether it be the food in the pantry, our rooms, almost anything—and I think it really helps. Oh, and the coffee stand really helps!"

Perhaps the most important adjustments will be felt on Saturday when Simon fronts up for his first match. With the only spectators for his badminton match Olympic officials and media, this will makes an enormous difference to how he plays. However, perhaps not in the way you'd expect!

Without the large numbers of people absorbing the airflow in a venue, there are additional factors that Simon and Gronya must calibrate for. No crowd means a change to the way the shuttle travels in the air. 

"The key is timing and being conscious of how early or late to hit the shuttle. If there is a draft, it could be fast one side and slow the other or the draft could be going sideways. Knowing how to adjust is vital," says Simon. 

After pulling a hamstring ("hammy") in training today, Simon is hoping he can feel good in time for his big match. Now, one day before the opening ceremony, he sends a quick hello to the people back home before going off for a therapeutic massage. 

Thanks for giving us an insight into life as an Olympian, Simon! Recover quickly!

PHOTO: Simon eats lunch in his COVID safety cubicle 

PHOTO: Food is fuel! Simon's lunch consists of plenty of protein, veggies, pasta and, of course, what meal would be complete without ramen noodles and dumplings?

If you missed our previous story on Australian Olympian and BAC alumni Simon Leung, you can catch it here.