When Vicky Wright stepped away from the surgical ward to pursue her Olympic dream last summer, she didn’t expect to be back in the full throes of the NHS frontline so soon. 

But when she heard news of the escalating coronavirus crisis, there was no hesitation in the choice she made.

Less than a fortnight ago, Wright was a full-time athlete preparing to compete at the Women’s World Curling Championships in Canada, hoping to edge one step closer to qualifying for her first Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. 

But those dreams were quickly replaced by a sense of duty. Now, the only thing on her mind is upping her shifts as a general surgical ward nurse at the Forth Valley Hospital near Stirling, knowing there is a far more important battle to be won.

“Sport is not a life-and-death scenario,” she said. “I’ve been in those, and they are scary. 

“Working in the NHS keeps me grounded and gives me perspective on life. 

“When you’ve had a bad day at training and then you see people at work, and you realise you could have it a lot worse. In curling, no-one is going to die if I miss a shot.

“I can’t control anything to do with curling right now. I knew the only place I was going was back to work.

“All I can do is hope for the best and focus on how I can care for people who are vulnerable, as a nurse.”

Wright is one of many British athletes whose plans have been thwarted by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as hundreds of events have been cancelled and rescheduled worldwide, including the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics until 2021. 

Having been disappointed by the abrupt end to her curling season in Canada, Wright shares her sympathy with those athletes affected but insists the decision to postpone is for the best.

“We were gutted not to compete at our World Championships,” she added. 

“World events and the Olympics are the pinnacle of all our sports and the ones where we want to be performing at our best, but the realisation comes that our health is more important.

“Any medal or achievement wouldn’t be worth it if something disastrous happens. 

“Fortunately we’ve got another two years so hopefully we’ll be okay, but we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

“We have to deal with the here and now and protect our health, understanding that sport comes second.”

After the pandemic has passed, Wright hopes to return to full-time curling with the aim of medalling at Beijing 2022. 

But to do so, she will have to be on her toes as no-one yet knows when the sporting calendar will return to normal.

Waking up for a morning conditioning session in the garden is the last thing many would want to do after a long night shift on a busy ward, but Wright knows it’s a must if she wants to fulfil all her dreams — both on and off the ice. 

“It’s a unique position to be in, and it’s a total privilege,” she added. 

“I can achieve my sporting dreams as well as keep my nursing career alive, which I do really enjoy.”