After lengthy bout with COVID-19, U.S. sprinter English Gardner eyes Olympic return

U.S. sprinter English Gardner says her lengthy fight with COVID-19 earlier this spring left her body in shambles. She had muscle cramps and leg pain. Headaches. Swollen joints. Full-body rashes. Extreme fatigue. Respiratory problems. 

"It's been terrible," Gardner said in a news conference Tuesday. "If I can really be honest with you guys, it's been really, really terrible."

Gardner, who won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics as part of Team USA's 4×100 relay team, said she contracted COVID-19 less than two months ago, in late April. The 29-year-old experienced what she described as "long-hauler symptoms" and said she really hasn't felt like her normal self until this week – when she'll try to book her ticket to Tokyo at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon.

The New Jersey native is set to compete in the 100-meter dash on Friday and Saturday.

"I feel confident going into the trials this week, because I have nothing to lose and everything to gain," Gardner said. "I've already beaten COVID. I feel like a conqueror. And so this week will definitely just make me more of a conqueror."

While several Olympic hopefuls have contracted COVID-19 over the past year, Gardner's illness came at a particularly precarious time. She said the disease sidelined her for "about a month" in April and May, then continued to linger after she returned to the track.

Early on, Gardner said, her resting heart rate would be north of 100 beats per minute for several hours after a workout.

"My coach, being the smart man that he is, he really took his time in easing me back into workouts, easing me back into training," she said.

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