Irish Olympic race walker Brendan Boyce fears his athletics career may come to an end next year following the International Olympic Committee’s decision to scrap the 50km walk from the Paris 2024 Games.
Donegal’s Boyce, 34, is set to compete in his third Olympics this summer.
In December, the IOC confirmed it was axing Boyce’s event from Paris.
“That’s devastating, I was kind of hoping that I would have another Olympics in me,” said Boyce.
“Especially with Paris being so close to home, it nearly felt like another London games where the Irish support was so brilliant, it would have been something like that again.
“I was hoping that Paris would be my swansong but the IOC has decided the 50km doesn’t have value and the sacrifices those athletes are making now is going to go to waste I guess.”
Boyce, who has competed at the last two Olympics, produced a career best performance at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha to finish sixth.
While the 50km event is to be removed from the Olympics, a shorter 35km format will continue on the World Athletics schedule.
“For me 50km is my event and in terms of winning medals I don’t think 35km is going to be good for me to be honest,” said the Finn Valley man.
“I feel like I can give it a go for another season and maybe work into 2022 but after that, if the 35km isn’t working out then I guess that’ll be it.
“I can probably say I’ve got enough out of the sport at 34 years of age.
“I do love athletics and I would have loved to have kept going a bit longer but that seems to be what’s going to happen.”
Performance, not experience, the priority in Tokyo
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic raising doubts over this year’s rearranged Games, Boyce remains confident that they will take place in July.
Boyce’s event is scheduled to take place in the northern city of Sapporo, nearly 700 miles away from the hub of the Games.
Having already qualified, Boyce insists his focus remains solely on performance.
“I just have to block out the negatives and we have to plan for an Olympic games regardless until the point that someone holds up a white flag,” he said.
“My priority is going there for a result. I’ve had my Olympic experience, if you can call it that, in London and Rio… Tokyo for me is going to be all about performance really.
With 2013 world champion Rob Heffernan on board as coach, Boyce was able to navigate the uncertainty of 2020 with considerable success – despite missing out on the opportunity to carry his World Championship form directly into the Olympics.
“We’ve done really well with (coach) Rob Heffernan, we managed to get in a few time trials last year – he’s got a lot of experience and was able to plan 2020 out in a way that we were still able to maximise training and get in a lot of good tests.
“I did a marathon time-trial on my own in May last year and it would have worked out, if I had kept going, it would have been a PB over 50k so I think I’ve used 2020 to my advantage.”