With the announcement that the 2020 Olympic Games have officially been postponed until 2021, decathlete and Greeley, CO native Chris Helwick is extending his Olympic campaign by one year, facing new challenges and opportunities along the way.
Next summer, Helwick will be 36 years old, making him the oldest American to ever compete in the Olympic decathlon, were he to qualify. When Chris Helwick came out of his six-and-a-half year retirement at the beginning of 2019, he never expected to compete beyond 2020. At age 35, Helwick was already considered an elder in his event. If he had qualified for the Olympics this year, he still would have been the oldest American to have ever competed in the Olympic decathlon by several months.
However, with the Olympic Games now set for the summer of 2021, Helwick is not shying away from the challenge of competing for one more year. In fact, he sees this one-year extension as an opportunity to further refine his training process and bring his best performances to the 2021 US Olympic Trials and Olympic Games. According to Helwick, he was pleased with what he was able to accomplish in his first year back in the sport, though not entirely satisfied. “My biggest accomplishment in 2019 was simply finishing three decathlons in full health. That’s a big deal for any decathlete, but it was critical for me, because I needed to know that I was still durable enough to train at a high level… My best performances are still ahead of me, though.” says Helwick.
When Helwick returned to competition last June, he was seven years removed from his last decathlon. But despite the long break, Helwick was able to get right back into the action by finishing in the top ten in three national and international competitions. In June of 2019, he finished third at the Texas Greatest Athlete Decathlon in Dallas, TX. A month later he finished 9th at the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, IA. And in September, while representing Team USA, he finished tenth at the Thorpe Cup (USA vs Germany decathlon) in Bernhausen, Germany.
Helwick is expecting to compete in several competitions later this summer in order to prepare for the 2021 Olympic trials, but it’s uncertain as to when and where those events might be held. Every competition Helwick had originally planned on competing in this outdoor season was canceled or postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only time will tell for the self-proclaimed “born-again athlete” aiming to make the 2021 US Olympic Decathlon Team.