Tom Weller/DeFodi Images via Getty Images Regan Smith
Newly-minted bronze medalist Regan Smith worried — like many athletes — that her Tokyo Olympics moment would never happen.
On Tuesday in Japan, the 19-year-old from Minnesota took third for Team USA in the women's 100m backstroke with a time of 58.05, finishing behind Australian Kaylee McKeown and Canada's Kylie Masse.
Of course, the Games are happening on a one-year delay.
Originally scheduled for July and August 2020, they were pushed to their July 23, 2021, start date amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Smith said after her race that the postponement and the COVID-19 situation was always front of mind.
"I was so worried about that all throughout the pandemic. And at times it made it hard during training to stay motivated and want to keep going because it was super easy to be like, 'What am I training for?' " Smith told PEOPLE while speaking with reporters during a press conference Tuesday.
Continued Smith, "You know, 'This might not ever even happen.' But I'm really happy that I kept my head down. I continued to try hard and it really ended up paying off."
Of making it to the podium, the swimmer told PEOPLE that she's "very pleased" and "super happy that we all got to be here and that has happened."
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.