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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Maguire’s Olympic dream very much alive

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Leona Maguire is back in Cavan relieved that her Olympic dream has been delayed and not cancelled amid the current COVID-19 crisis.

The LPGA Tour star released a message on social media following the IOC’s decision to postpone the Games, now to be rescheduled no later than the summer of 2021.

“Thankfully today’s announcement from the Olympic Committee confirms that the Games will be postponed and not cancelled which means our Olympic dreams are still alive,” said Maguire, who donned the green of Ireland in a career highlight at Rio in 2016.

“It’s disappointing for everyone involved, not only the athletes but all the support staff who have spent countless hours training, planning, and preparing for this summer’s Games.

“That said, as athletes we appreciate that making sacrifices is part and parcel of sport and life. But this is bigger than sport, this is a global pandemic that hopefully we will never have to face again in our lifetime.

“It’s great to see people helping those around them and I’m hoping that we will come out the other end stronger and with a  greater appreciation for how lucky we all are.

“My priorities this year were based around July/August where we had two Majors and the Olympics scheduled. For me, the Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world and Rio 2016 has definitely been the highlight of my career so far.

“I loved every minute of competing alongside the best athletes in the world and cheering on my Irish teammates in their respective events. Without doubt there is no great honour than representing Ireland on the biggest stage in the world.”

This past winter was all about gains for Maguire as she prepared to tee up against the most powerful and talented players of the elite LPGA Tour. In a game obsessed with power, it’s all the more impressive that Maguire achieved her LPGA Tour graduation from a lowly 104th on the Symetra Tour’s 2019 Driving Distance charts where she averaged 250.350 yards last year.

Those figures would’ve left her at 133rd in the LPGA Tour stats equivalent, interestingly two places ahead of former college teammate at Duke University, Celine Boutier who enjoyed her maiden professional win at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in February 2019 averaging 250.333 yards over the season.

Maguire hoped to add 15-20 yards to maximise her scoring potential over the offseason and her work quickly paid dividends with a T-4th finish at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia back in February.

Now, if anything she’s been handed more time in that mission to add length to her game and it’s an opportunity she recognises with the sport’s governing bodies still unsure as to when competition will resume.

“Right now, I’m concentrating on the things I can control,” she said.

“I’m at home with my family in Cavan being cautious while still getting as much practice in as I can in a safe environment. This is like a second offseason for us so I am currently building up strength in the gym, working on my short game and just getting ready for whenever we get the green light from the LPGA Tour to compete again.

“Finally, thank you to everyone who is putting their lives on the line to fight for the lives of others, we will get through this together. Stay safe, STAY AT HOME.”

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