When looking back at Michigan State wrestling, there are legends that fill the halls in East Lansing. Fast forwarding to today, former Spartan Franklin Gomez is preparing to represent Puerto Rico at the 2020 Olympic Games with the COVID-19 Pandemic looming over his chances at a medal.
“We can’t have that many people here so I’m just here, me and the coach maybe two other people there’s not that many people here. So it definitely changes and affects the training drastically because you are trying to follow the law but at the same time you wanna keep training you know,” said Gomez.
Gomez is the first Puerto Rican to ever qualify for three Olympic Games. In London, for the 2012 Olympics he got sick before his weigh in and couldn’t wrestle to the best of his ability. Four years later in Rio de Janeiro, the judges made a controversial call against Gomez that would lead to an investigation and suspension of the judges. This year the COVID-19 Pandemic is putting another chance at a medal in jeopardy.
One of Franklin’s former coaches and current Michigan State Head Coach, Roger Chandler, knows Franklin wants to wrestle but understands this is bigger than the Olympics.
“You know I think the first and foremost is the health and safety of people in general, I mean I think that’s paramount to anything that we’re dealing with right now and I think Franklin would approach it the same way. You know you gotta move on and move forward because if you dwell on the past you’re going to be caught in quicksand,” said Chandler.
Gomez sees the Olympics being canceled as a possibility but knows the decision is out of his hands and all he can do is prepare for his next match.
“If they cancel the Olympics that means they’re going to cancel all the important things, you know. That means we have to be even more conservative more protective. The way I see it I just gotta do the best I can where I’m at with what I have and the rest I cannot control, leave it up to God you know,” said Gomez.
Coach Chandler is proud of his 2009 National Champion at 133 pounds, while looking forward to what will be Gomez’s final Olympic games before retirement.
“You put so much into this sport and who we are as people and to see people have that success, that’s what you want for everybody and to think that he would have another opportunity in Tokyo, I would love to see him be able to get on the award stand as well,” said Chandler.
As of this publishing of this story, the International Olympic Committee has not made an official statement on any suspension of cancellation of the 2020 Olympic Games, while USA Track and Field and USA Swimming have strongly suggested the Games be suspended.