Olympics

6 Month Countdown to Tokyo: Catching Up With San Diego's Olympic Hopefuls

The coronavirus pandemic has led to two different paths for SoCal's Beach Volleyball Olympian Lauren Fendrick and Skateboarding Olympic Hopeful Bryce Wettstein

NBC Universal, Inc.

When organizers postponed the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 due to skyrocketing coronavirus cases around the world, Olympic hopefuls had no choice but to bear down on another year of training.

So, how’s it going?

Now, with 6 months left until the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, NBC 7 circled back to catch up with two San Diego-area Olympic hopefuls we profiled before the pandemic hit: 2016 Beach Volleyball Olympian Lauren Fendrick, and 17-year-old skateboarding phenom, Bryce Wettstein.

Bryce Wettstein, 15, of Encinitas, is already on the Team USA shortlist for a shot at history. NBC 7's Steven Luke heads to Encinitas to meet the teen with a backyard skatepark.

Their stories are proof of how the coronavirus pandemic has pushed Olympic dreams in different directions.

"I feel like I'm a better skateboarder now, cause I've realized what passion is again" said Wettstein, a junior at San Dieguito Academy.

The Encinitas teen and her family built a second skateboarding ramp in their backyard ahead of the games to help her train.

Wettstein had no idea just how great an investment it would become as private and public facilities shut down amid the pandemic.

"I was so beyond grateful cause it just gave me another opportunity to practice new things, to go out on a whim and try things, flipping my board in new alternating directions," Wettstein told NBC 7.

Meanwhile, Fendrick, who grew up in Carlsbad and has been living here during the pandemic along with her husband and young daughter, initially thought the extra time would help her make Team USA.

"I was lifting sandbags and using my daughter as a weight and just trying to get really creative," Fendrick told NBC 7.

She had been fighting to get back into shape after giving birth and would’ve needed to travel the world on a daunting competition schedule in order to secure enough wins to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

But, as all of those tournaments were canceled, it allowed her precious time with her family.

"I wouldn't have been able to see my daughter crawl and walk, I would've been travelling the world playing beach volleyball," said Fendrick.

Now, as athletes around the world prepare for an Olympic redo, Fendrick has already announced she’ll be watching from home, but she has a good reason.

Fendrick is pregnant again and is expecting a baby boy in April 2021, so she will be fulfilling another type of important dream.

As for Wettstein, a top contender to make Team USA’s inaugural skateboarding team, the time off has been difficult at times.

The teenager misses the things many teens miss during the pandemic-era. She hopes to get back into the classroom and back into competition soon.

But Wettstein said the slowdown has led to some serious teenage soul searching and, as a result, she is more hungry than ever to make her Olympic debut this summer.

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