The 400m hurdler Jessie Knight has revealed she is one of the six British track and field athletes forced to self isolate after coming into close contact with a passenger on her flight to Tokyo.
The 27-year-old told the Guardian she had initially panicked when approached by an official on Sunday, as she thought she was about to be told she had Covid. That would have ruined her Olympic dreams completely, but she has since repeatedly tested negative and will be on the start line on Saturday week.
“Initially my heart sank because I thought I was going to be told I had it,” Knight said. “To be honest there was panic. I called my coach straightaway and I said ‘please don’t call my family,’ because I thought they would just go into panic mode too.
“But my coach was like, ‘Stay calm, even if the worst happens and you can’t train, you’re going to be fine’. And she just kept me calm. There was only about a half an hour window where we didn’t really know anything but the British Olympic Association was brilliant. They got us information really quickly. And the good news is all the other athletes have also tested negative too.”
Knight, who has temporarily given up her job as a primary school teacher in Surrey to prepare for the Games, said had been confined to her room except to go training once a day by herself. “It’s obviously not ideal, but I came into these championships very much prepared for something like this to happen,” she admitted. “We all took that risk when we came out here. I’m just fortunate that I’ve managed to isolate and not have it, and therefore my competition will not be affected.
“I’m able to train every day and there’s been a lot of measures put in place to ensure that our preparations are not affected. The one time I can leave my room each day is to go to the track – we have personal transport that takes us there, which is actually a lot nicer than the coach, so I feel quite lucky. I even managed a hurdle session yesterday, and I had two of the coaches distanced from me. They could blow the whistle and help me so I do actually feel that it’s not altered my preparations at all.”
Knight said her isolation meant she was treated like a queen, with meals, drinks – and everything else delivered instantly to her room. “You’d pay a lot of money for this room service so I’m not complaining,” she joked. “We get the menus delivered to us and we can just order whatever we want. I needed ice for an ice bath earlier and four bags were dropped at my door a couple of minutes later.”
Despite everything, Knight still believes she can make the Olympic 400m hurdles final after having the best season of her career. “I definitely think there is a space in that final for me,” she said. “I feel mentally and physically ready. And I do feel that I’m going to perform well.”