AUSTIN (KXAN) — The countdown is on.
Wednesday marks 100 days to the start of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony. Many athletes have already qualified while others are gearing up for the upcoming qualifying events.
Two-time Olympic medalist Cat Osterman is ready to go another round. Tokyo 2020 will mark her final Olympic Games. The Team USA Softball pitcher came out of retirement for the games, but never expected what would happen when COVID-19 became a pandemic leading to the International Olympic Committee announcing the postponement to 2021.
“Personally, I can’t say I expected the delay so I had already had conversations with my family,” she explained. “I am a stepmom so I have a husband and stepdaughter that I had to consider but both of them were like, ‘What’s another year?’ and of course my stepdaughter was like, ‘I get to see you play for a whole other year?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, there’s about 6 to 8 months where we’re not playing, we’re quarantined at home.'”
Osterman admits there have been some challenges along the way but she keeps pushing with her eyes on gold. She resigned from her assistant coaching job at Texas State to focus on the Olympics. Osterman was a four-time All-America selection and three-time national player of the year for the Texas Longhorns.
“There was small mental challenges as far as looking up at what I felt was like looking up my Mount Everest of 14 months of training to continue to be over in Tokyo once the delay was announce but there was never a doubt in my mind that I had come out of retirement to be able to do this one more time and I was going to see it through,” she said. “So, there was never a doubt that I wouldn’t see it through, there’s just been days that it seems like it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
The Tokyo Olympics will mark the return of baseball and softball to the Olympic program since the Beijing 2008 Games. Since then, baseball and softball were not a part of the 2012 London or 2016 Rio Games and will not be a part of the Paris 2024 Games.
Osterman believes they need to get the game in front of more European eyes as many of the members who make up the IOC are European. The IOC ultimately gets to decide which sports make the cut for each Olympic Games.
“My husband is a college golf coach, he has two kids from European countries that play for him and they were both over at the house for a team dinner and I had softball on and they were like, ‘Oh, is this the sport you play? We don’t play in our country.’ And, to me, that’s a disappointment,” Osterman said.
“Because there are so many girls who could be playing a sport and you don’t have to be a certain type of athlete to be successful. You can be big and strong, you can be shorter and quick, you can be all sorts of different athletic talents to be successful, so for us, it’s putting on a good show but at the same time still trying to grow this game across the ocean in Europe and in European countries.”
Softball kicks off the Tokyo Olympics with the game opener scheduled for July 20 with Australia taking on host nation Japan. Team USA plays the same day against Italy. At present, Team USA Softball is in Florida continuing to prepare at a training camp.