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Olympic postponement affects several Las Vegas athletes

Updated March 24, 2020 - 10:26 am

NFL quarterback turned track and field coach Randall Cunningham didn’t panic. He doesn’t intend to deviate from the plan, even though he has to delay it.

His daughter, Vashti, will continue to train for the Olympics, despite Tuesday’s announcement by the International Olympic Committee that this summer’s Olympics are being postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ll take the day off and rest instead of becoming anxious and overthinking things,” the elder Cunningham said. “Maybe a week off to rest, get a second wind and then come back.”

Several other local athletes are affected by the postponement as well, including several Aces players and UNLV student-athletes.

Cunningham is among the most notable, having attended Bishop Gorman and qualified for the games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where she finished 13th in the high jump as an 18-year-old. She was unavailable for comment.

“It’s wise,” the elder Cunningham said of the postponement. “We pretty much just can’t jump to conclusions right now. We’ll just adhere to what the people say.”

Vashti Cunningham is among the most decorated American track and field athletes. She has collected eight national high- jump titles since she turned professional in 2016. She’s No. 5 in the world, per World Athletics.

Cunningham has his own facility where his children will continue to train. His son, Randall II, also attended Gorman and was a four-time All-American at Southern California. He also is attempting to qualify for the Olympics in the high jump.

“Right now, we’ll go back to the drawing board,” Randall Cunningham said. “The most important thing we can do right now is to make sure everybody stays healthy and just continues to get their bodies right. This is probably a rest time now. … We’re going to spend time with family. Just take it as family time. With all the traveling and everything, we don’t spend a whole lot of time with family. So just a lot of family time together.”

Aces

A’ja Wilson isn’t technically an Olympian. Yet.

But the third-year Aces forward was in line to compete in this summer’s Olympics with the American national team. Now she will have to wait one more year to make her Olympic debut.

“It (has) a big impact on everyone across the world. It’s something that brought a lot of people together,” said Wilson, humbly maintaining that she isn’t officially an Olympian. “It’s going to be tough.”

Wilson played in 2018 for the American national team that won the FIBA World Cup and for the national team last month in a qualifying tournament. Aces center Liz Cambage represented Australia in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and in February she helped her country qualify again for this summer’s games.

Aces teammate JiSu Park helped South Korea qualify in February and was set to make her Olympic debut.

Aces guard Kelsey Plum was on the FIBA World Cup championship team and participated in American team training sessions during the offseason as well, as did teammate Kayla McBride. Plum also was selected to USA Basketball’s three-on-three qualifying team that was supposed to compete from March 18-22 in Bengaluru, India, for a berth in the Olympics.

“Once I saw (the virus) hit the Olympics, it made me focus on, ‘OK, we’ve got to get right as a country,’ ” Wilson said. “It makes you really key in on your health and the people around you.”

UNLV

Rebels volunteer swimming coach Kasia Wasick had qualified to represent Poland. She established a national 50 freestyle record in March and beat reigning 100 freestyle gold medalist Simone Manuel with a time of 24.58 seconds to qualify. She also qualified last summer for Poland’s relay teams.

UNLV swimmers Ogi Maric (Croatia), Panos Bolanos (Greece), Bryan Chavez (Venezuela) and Richard Szilagyi (Romania) had the potential to qualify for their home countries.

Rebels soon-to-be senior Billy Jones starts for New Zealand’s men’s soccer team, which qualified in October.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter. Staff reporter Mark Anderson contributed to this report.

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