When Philip Doyle agreed to put his medical career on hold in order to focus on his Olympic preparation, he did so with more than a touch of reluctance.
The Irish rower is happy to buck the trend of most Olympic hopefuls by openly admitting to rarely being consumed by his sporting discipline.
Doyle, 27, has never hidden the fact that medicine is his first love. One that will form the basis of his professional life once he is content with his rowing achievements.
In 2018 he walked away from rowing for a period because of the impact it was having on his career as a doctor, but the allure of Tokyo 2020 was just enough to bring him back under the agreement that medicine would resume centre stage by the end of the Olympic year.
Such plans have now been blighted by the coronavirus pandemic which has seen the Olympics postponed until 2021.
For Doyle, the cards have fallen in such a way that medicine is now, without question, the priority.
“I was only on the phone last week begging for a job,” said Doyle, who started work on the general medicine ward of Newry’s Daisy Hill Hospital last Wednesday.
“The medicine was there long before the rowing was ever in my life, it’s always been my main number one driving force.
“I think I was a bit begrudging in the beginning, having to give all of me to the rowing so this break allows me to finish off my foundation year.”
It is a change of pace in every aspect, with Doyle now back in his family home having spent much of his time training in Cork prior to the news of the Olympic postponement.
The utility room and the garage have been transformed into a “dirty room”, where Doyle can change his clothes and wash upon returning from a shift before stepping inside the house, in order to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19.
‘I have to see through my Olympic ambition’
It is not even two weeks since the Olympic postponement was announced, and already life in training camp feels something of a distant memory.
It is not, however, a permanent state of affairs and even for Doyle, for whom circumstance has accelerated a long-held desire to prioritise his medical career, there is unfinished business that must be attended to.
“I have to see this through,” says Doyle, who secured Olympic qualification with double sculls partner Ronan Byrne at last year’s World Cup, in which they secured a silver medal.
“Myself and Ronan have put ourselves into a position where we can really fight for a medal.
“I’ve said it to myself so many times that I’m a medal contender and I want to prove that right and prove that we can bring a medal back.
“When I first quit my job to qualify for the Olympics I was going for the T-shirt -for the experience.
“But once we started performing and producing results, all I want is an Olympic medal and to bring that home.
“So I have to see this one through first at least and then we’ll see about the next one.”