COLORADO SPRINGS– A once vacant department store in the Citadel Mall is now, for the time being, home to some of the most elite boxers in the United States.
Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, USA Boxing has not been able to train at its facility at the Olympic Training Center since March 2020. In an effort to better accommodate the team’s training needs, USA Boxing moved its facility to what was once a Macy’s department store.
“It’s better than where we were at it,” Mike McAtee, the executive director of USA Boxing said. “It’s not the best, but we are going to make it work for us… It gives our athletes a space to focus on competitive excellence as opposed to just treading water, we need to move forward.”
Prior to that, the team made adjustments to its training schedule, living and training at Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs, and even training at the French National Training Center in Paris in late 2020.
The team has about four months until the first Olympic qualifier event in May, and with the Olympic Training Center closed for the foreseeable future, McAtee said USA Boxing had to do what was best for the athletes.
“The rest of the world is training for the Olympic games,” he said. “We have to keep training and mitigate risk, but life is full of risk and that’s why we’ve got to keep moving forward and can’t wait around for anyone.”
In the department store, USA Boxing is able to fit four rings, heavy bags, and strength and conditioning equipment. The changes have been tough on the athletes, but as a combat sport, McAtee said the team is used to adversity.
“They understand, but they’re resilient and they’re fighters,” he said. “They’re warriors at heart, so they’re going to train, they’re going to compete. We have to give them the ability and the resources so they can be successful, so they can achieve our mission, and our mission is to win gold medals.”
McAtee also said USA Boxing is behind the 8 ball in training for Tokyo, but with the excitement behind the training facility he said it’s a semblance the team is moving forward.
“In Olympic style boxing mentality, we got knocked down,” he said. “We got up, we got an eight count, we dusted our gloves off and we’re back in the fight.”