TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. — "I'm excited to be heading back," Anita Alvarez told 2 On Your Side.
Alvarez admits this is going to be a different type of games with limited attendance, no family there, not as many extracurriculars. It will be just the competition, and she is ready for it, despite a scare in the pool just a week and a half ago at her Olympic trials.
"When I came up, the ceiling was kind of spinning like a hamster wheel, and then I don't remember anything until I was at the wall with my coach and my teammates," she said.
Alvarez lost consciousness at the end of her routine, but she says it has happened before, but not to that extent.
"It's happened a few times before in training, but not necessarily always completely blacking out though," Alvarez said.
Alvarez and her trainers attribute it to a combination of things; a rigorous schedule, lack of sleep, temperature in the pool, chlorine fumes. Just the same, she has been going back and forth to doctor appointments this week, just to make sure everything checks out. She just wants to put that episode behind her so she can focus on a month from now, the Tokyo games.
After a year of trying to train and compete through a pandemic, she says even though the games will be different, they will also be special.
"Every single athlete who's there had this crazy year and went through all these challenges and struggles," Alvarez said. "So being there together, even though we probably can't interact with people as much as we used to, there'll be like a whole new sense of unity and I think it'll be extra special just being there all together. We don't know everyone's individual stories but we know that everyone through a really tough times here and there."
Alvarez adds that there will be a sense of pride in overcoming adversity, and getting back to the sports world's biggest stage.
"It's going to feel like a sense of victory just being there and I hope every athlete actually gets to feel proud for that in itself," Alvarez said.