Jade Jones says she has been left gutted after seeing her bid for a historic hat-trick of Olympic taekwondo gold medals delayed by 12 months.
The Flint fighter admits postponing Tokyo 2020 until next year was the right course of action due to the coronavirus crisis.
But she fears for the psychological burden it will put on athletes who have to get over the delay and try to refocus their efforts for 2021.
“I’m truly gutted – you give your heart and soul to something for four years then for it not to go ahead is just horrible.
“Obviously health comes first, and my biggest priority right now is protecting my family and my loved ones, and doing everything I can do to help save the lives of others.
“But as an elite athlete, it is very demotivating and mentally tough.”
Speaking to Press Association Sport, Jones added: “I’m a very positive person but the idea, right now, of having to devote myself to another year’s slog is a very difficult one.”
Jones joined the Welsh sporting greats when she struck gold in London 2012 aged just 19 before defending the title in Rio in 2016.
The 26-year-old decided to try and become the first fighter to win taekwondo gold at three successive Games but will not have to try and find the motivation to compete in 2021.
Jones has been self-isolating along with her best friend Bianca Walkden, also a world champion, at the house they share in Manchester where GB Taekwondo is based.
And given the difficulty in finding a place to train, they have converted the garage into a makeshift training facility.
“At least this means we can sit back and chill for a little while, and we don’t have to train like psychos and do stupid stuff in our house,” added Jones.
Jones was likely to have been joined in Tokyo by fellow Welsh fighter Lauren Williams – another Welsh sportswoman who will have to refocus their goal on 2021.
Chief Executive of the BOA, Andy Anson, said of the decision, which had been expected in recent weeks: “It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support, in light of the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on our nation, our communities and our families.
“Alongside UK Sport and the BPA, we have consulted with the National Governing Bodies of summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and with athlete representative groups, including our Athletes’ Commissions and the British Athletes’ Commission. It is with their input and support that we have a unanimous view that the impact of COVID-19 on athletes’ training and preparation means their regimes are now compromised irreparably. It is time for them to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families.
“It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world no less is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision.
“We have incredible sympathy for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and indeed our colleagues at the IOC, who are working tirelessly to seek a positive outcome to this difficult scenario. The Olympic Games is a symbol of hope for us all and we are sure that we will be in Tokyo at the right and appropriate time as the world re-emerges from this dark period.”