March 26, 2020 / 11:06 AM / 5 days ago

British rower Swann ponders return to medicine after Olympics delay

(Reuters) - British Olympic rower Polly Swann was aiming to return to the Olympic podium in July but is now considering rebooting her medical career to join the battle against the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Rowing - Victory Ceremony - Women's Eight Victory Ceremony - Lagoa Stadium - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - 13/08/2016. Silver medalists Katie Greves (GBR) of Britain, Melanie Wilson (GBR) of Britain, Frances Houghton (GBR) of Britain, Polly Swann (GBR) of Britain, Jessica Eddie (GBR) of Britain, Olivia Carnegie-Brown (GBR) of Britain, Karen Bennett (GBR) of Britain, Zoe Lee (GBR) of Britain, Zoe De Toledo (GBR) of Britain pose with their medals. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Swann, who won a silver medal as part of Britain’s women’s eight at the 2016 Olympics, wanted to round off her rowing career in Tokyo this year before resuming her life as a doctor.

Yet with the Games postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Swann is mulling returning to the medical profession.

“I feel really conflicted by the whole thing,” the 31-year-old told the Times newspaper. “I do feel a real draw (towards starting work in the NHS). I am not essential to the NHS but I could help.

“I see my friends and I have family members who work in the NHS and there is a real sense that they are pulling together to do this extraordinary work that is incredibly selfless.

“The people who are working ridiculous shifts and dealing with the fact that they don’t have enough protective equipment and they are exposing themselves, I find it phenomenal.”

More than 470,800 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and over 21,200 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

“No one has a crystal ball to know what it will be like next year either,” said Swann. “We have not got a vaccine. There are things that are more important than going to an Olympic Games.”

Swann believes the rearranged Games will represent “more than just the sport”, a sentiment shared by her Rio crew-mate Melanie Wilson, who is now a doctor.

“Mel was really helpful. She said that the Olympics is not just a selfish goal,” Swann added. “The Olympics and sport bring so much to society. She told me not to give up on my dream.”

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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