I didn’t realise how anxious I’d been in the last week before my departure from Europe and during the trip home, until we touched down in Australia and I let out the breath and tension I’d been holding in!
It’s always nice to be home, and although I feel at home in many places in the world, there was an underlying craving for safety associated with coming home to Aus this year.
Sydney International airport looks and feels a lot different this year… The arrivals scene is definitely not like the one we see on Love Actually at Heathrow! Getting off the plane, we were greeted with health screenings and briefing, temperature checks, escorted by Police to baggage claim, then ushered onto buses by the ADF to send us to hotel quarantine. It’s a bit of a lucky dip as to where you end up. I was travelling with mum, and as family, we could quarantine together.
We were very lucky to end up with a balcony - I never thought fresh air would be considered a luxury, but having a balcony was a life-saver and I was grateful every day to be able to clear the air after a sweaty workout!
And so began our 14 days without leaving the room!
14 days, 2 covid tests, 7 Uber eats orders, 4 books, 1 rubik’s cube, 18 zoom calls, 1008 minutes of exercise, 20 episodes of the Crown, 35 cups of tea, 1 wave from an office worker in the building opposite.
A knock on the door became the most exciting part of the day; is it the nurse? Is it our lunch? Is it a surprise delivery?
I felt very spoilt by friends, Paddle Aus team, sponsors and my management team who sent me some lovely care packages to get me through.
Our meals were left out the front of the door. The food was very average, very hit and miss, so I did a couple grocery deliveries of fresh veg and snacks and a few Uber Eats too!
Our Paddle Aus team delivered some gym equipment that I could fit in the room so I was able to exercise and maintain some fitness. I’ve never done so much skipping, jump squats and spin biking.
Every day I tried to make sure I wrote out a list, exercised, stretched, read a book and did some work. Making the bed, opening the curtains and writing a list were simple things that helped me feel productive. I struggled to get over jetlag this time - my sleep was all over the place, probably because I’m usually outdoors and active as soon as I get home. I found the days actually went quickly in the first week and I was busy with zoom calls, study, training, painting and rubik’s cubing! It became pretty hard from day 11… the end was so near.
It was a strange experience to be stuck indoors for 14 days. I tried to get into a bit of a routine to get through it but some days I definitely lacked the motivation to do anything! I enjoyed slowing down and being in a nice hotel but I would have preferred a prisoners ankle bracelet to quarantine at home! In saying that, the hotel staff, police, ADF, nurses and doctors were all really lovely and caring throughout our stay.
Australia is one of few countries enforcing mandatory hotel quarantine for return travellers. It’s one of the reasons we’re doing a lot better than other continents but it is definitely making us re-evaluate our plans for next year. We would normally have 4 trips scheduled before the Olympics but if we need to quarantine each time we come home, we will either have to compromise our training preparation and stay home, or relocate to Europe in between Tokyo trips.