No one knows when the next official Olympic games will take place. Originally scheduled to get underway in Tokyo, Japan this July, the absence of the competition this summer means it’s time to get creative.
As various facilities, businesses and programs find their footing and re-open alongside government guidance, things will, by necessity, be notably different.
It’s possible that team sports may be prohibited for a long time to come, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s red tape stretched over Marin County’s numerous public basketball courts. Instead, perhaps it will have to be a game of one-on-one instead of a full-on five-on-five contest. Regardless, beating the odds and willing your way to triumph has always been part of the Olympic spirit.
Thus, if you’re looking to bring a little Olympic magic into your life this summer, here are some ideas to help you carry the torch (in a socially-distant manner).
Established in 1954, the Northwoods Bowmen’s Club in Novato is still a child when compared with the history of archery in the Olympics. Debuting in 1900, the sport endured a half-century hiatus from the summer Olympics between 1920 and 1972. For those who’d like to try their hand with a bow and arrow, the Bowmen’s Club is currently awaiting approval to re-open but intends to operate on a modified basis this summer. You can also get a bow and arrow of your own, but be sure not live out any William Tell fantasies without proper protection and precautions.
Despite the popularity of seeing minor-league MLB talents and international studs slug it out on the diamond, both baseball and softball were removed as Olympic sports following the 2008 games in Beijing. While fans are looking forward to the return of both sports whenever the rescheduled 2020 Olympics eventually does take place, they’ll need to make do by practicing their grounders, perfecting their pitches, or perhaps just playing some good old-fashioned toss and catch at one of Marin’s many fields or parks.
Professional basketball has arguably never been popular, with superstars like Lebron James and the Bay Area’s own Stephen Curry delivering international viewership whenever they hit the court. Alas, there will be no hoops in Tokyo this summer, but it doesn’t take a squad of all-stars to make the most of your moment on the black-top. Work on your free throws, do your best impression of Curry’s famous half-court heaves, or start a remote game of H-O-R-S-E with a friend where you send each other video challenges.
In the annals of iconic Olympic moments, boxing has delivered some absolute knockouts. In Rome in 1960, an 18-year-old Cassius Clay won a gold medal in the “Light Heavyweight” division. When it comes to training your own knuckles, follow the Novato Boxing Club or Marin City Boxing Club on Facebook for updates on possible re-opening dates. In the interim, all you really need are a pair of boxing gloves and something to punch. If a gym-quality bag isn’t in the budget, stream a training video online and perfect your air jabs.
Cycling (Track, Mounting, BMX)
For as long as the modern Olympic games have existed, cycling has been part of the offerings. However, it wasn’t until the 1996 Atlanta games that mountain biking for men and women came along. Citizens of Marin are fortunate to still be able enjoy a wide array of options when it comes to shops and trails. For the former, Mike’s Bikes (San Rafael and Sausalito), Tam Bikes (Mill Valley), Sunshine Bicycle Center (Fairfax) and Trek Bicycle (Corte Madera) all remain available as bike shops and repair are considered essential under Bay Area COVID-19 guidelines. Ditto Marin’s glorious trails, though proper social-distancing protocols must be followed.
Despite golf’s popularity as a leisure activity for everyday Americans, the sport was only featured in the Olympics twice — in 1900 and 1902 — before getting cut. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro reintroduced golf to the fold but at this particular moment, its main appeal may be that it is a sport you are actually allowed to play. With golf a permitted activity under current public health rules, the time has never been better to sharpen your swing or perfect your putt. Notable local greens now booking tee times include Peacock Gap and McInnis Golf Center in San Rafael as well as Fairfax’s exclusive Meadow Club (members only).
Skateboarding was scheduled to make its first Olympic appearance in Tokyo this summer, with men and women separately competing for medals in park and street course events. That won’t be happening, but the moment is ripe for Marin’s skaters to shred. Not only are shops like Proof Lab (Mill Valley) offering curbside pick-up, but Marin is also home to skate parks located in Novato, San Rafael, Bolinas and Mill Valley.
Sports climbing was another new addition intended for the summer games in 2020. Anyone ready to climb up a wall of their own right now will need to remain patient given indoor climbing gyms remain closed. However, San Francisco’s Planet Granite is currently offering virtual classes to help keep your appetite for ascension well-fed. Outdoor climbing should only be attempted by trained professionals, but qualified individuals can grab supplies via curbside pickup, now available at many spots including REI’s Corte Madera location.
Gnarly! Waves were set to be conquered in Tokyo this summer with surfing becoming an Olympic sport for the very first time. At least those of us near the ocean can recreate a little bit of the magic on our own. If you’re frothing at the mouth to hit the water, stop by Proof Lab for curbside pick-up of all your tubular needs. You can also follow Stinson’s Live Water Surf Shop as well for updates on when they may be back. While beaches are open, remember to respect all social-distancing rules when hitting the sand.
For some, swimming is the staple of the summer Olympics. From legends like Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps to the rise of UC Berkeley swimming stud Missy Franklin, the sport has never failed to deliver new stars since it first took place at the Olympics back in 1896. As a result, today there are many different aquatic opportunities for those looking to make a splash. While all public pools remain closed, there are likely updates still to come as the summer progresses. For those want to test their open water swimming skills, The San Francisco Bay Swim Experts, are offering some small group clinics for people wanting to hone their skills and/or train for future events.
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Zack Ruskin writes on music, cannabis, and culture. His bylines include Vanity Fair, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, Merry Jane, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Danielle, and their cat, McCovey.