Amanda Longan during practice on Feb. 23, 2021 in Los Alamitos, California.
To Team USA athletes, the postponement of the Tokyo Games 2020 probably felt like sitting on a runway with no idea when the plane would take off. But one year after they were due to compete on the world’s biggest stage, they are finally ready for liftoff.
United — Team USA’s official airline sponsor for the past four decades — is giving its full support to the athletes and marking the occasion with the release of their latest campaign earlier this month, “Time To Let Yourself Fly.”
The advertisement stars five of the world’s most accomplished and decorated Olympic and Paralympic athletes: gymnast Simone Biles, surfer Kolohe Andino, soccer player Julie Ertz, Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long and Paralympic hand cyclist Oz Sanchez.
Long, a four-time Paralympian with an impressive 23 medals, said the spot “gave me chills. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of United with some incredible athletes as well. I am beyond thankful to be traveling again and all the hard work United has done to make that happen. Can’t wait to fly to Tokyo on United!”
United has proudly sponsored Team USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes as part of its long-standing relationship with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“The upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games mark the 40th year we’ve supported Team USA on their journey from practice to the podium,” said Janet Lamkin, senior vice president of market and community innovation at United. “Like the athletes we’ve flown over the years to compete on a global stage, United is an airline committed to doing the hard work to be the best.”
For Olympic water polo player Amanda Longan, that hard work includes logging many hours away from friends and family — something she hadn’t done in a year due to the pandemic.
“We all know it’s not easy to leave our homes and our loved ones for long periods of time, but for us athletes, it’s part of the job and part of the dream,” said the goalkeeper and first-time Olympian. “But it’s easier knowing United is going to do everything they can to get us to and from home efficiently and with care so we can go chase our dreams and make it back safely to our families.”
With the precautions that airlines have put in place — like mask-wearing, maintaining social distancing and stringent sanitation protocols — Tokyo shooting alternate and 2016 Olympian Ginny Thrasher said it has comforted her, allowing her to “get to my competition, experience the world and travel home without worrying about sickness.”