Rienna Skelton (middle) celebrates a win at the Canadian Junior Weightlifting Championships in Edmonton in January. (Source: Rienna Skelton)

Rienna Skelton, a professional weightlifter, was hoping to improve on her score from last year's Junior World Championships, but due to COVID-19 concerns, that won't be happening.

The International Weightlifting Federation announced that the Junior World Championships, which were supposed to be in Bucharest, Romania, on March 13, have been cancelled for safety precautions.

��The Junior World Championships in Bucharest has been CANCELLED! ��
Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 Virus spreading worldwide, IWF has taken the decision to cancel the Junior World Championships in Bucharest, Romania, for safety precautions.
Article ��https://t.co/qYZPgcN6OA pic.twitter.com/2SnZuqrjL5

— IWF (@iwfnet) March 2, 2020

The Manitoba athlete said it was disappointing to hear the event was cancelled.

"I've definitely trained hard coming up to it, and then it kind of is disappointing that nobody gets to show it off, or have a competition," said Skelton.

She said when she received the news, she was told the federation was more concerned about travel and getting home from the competition, rather than people getting the COVID-19 virus.

The 18-year-old was set to represent Canada, along with six other athletes, at the event.

"It was going to be kind of fun. We were going to travel as a team, and I know that they've worked really hard to get there as well. So yeah, it's definitely a tough situation."

Skelton competed at the junior championships in 2019 and she maxed out at 173 kilograms. She said she was hoping to improve on that result and increase her max that she has set so far this year.

"I've been kind of stuck at one particular total, 183 kilos. So the goal for worlds this year was to increase that."

Jeff Powell, executive director of Canada Sports Centre Manitoba said athletes based in the province have felt the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The International Ice Hockey Federation cancelled all of its March hockey tournament as a precautionary measure and the Chinese leg of the FINA Diving World Series was cancelled as well.

"Yes, it's having an impact. As far as the Olympics are concerned, nothing yet, other than that officials in the IOC are monitoring the situation," said Powell.


Even though this has been a tough situation, Skelton is staying positive throughout all of it and is now focusing on her next competition.

"Me and my coach kind of re-evaluated my goals and what we wanted to do. I'm going to compete at senior nationals in May in Kelowna and so it'll be the next thing coming up."

"It's kind of nice, we have now lots of time to improve on things and hopefully we will have kind of those same goals that I had for worlds."