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Thorns star misses teammates and competition, but enjoys relaxing, setting her own schedule, during pandemic

PMG FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Portland Thorns captian Christine Si.nclair, pictured in a 2019 match, is trying to make the best of her break from competitive soccer because of COVID-19.After a hectic 2019 that included playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup and the stress of the approaching record for international goals, the hiatus from organized soccer has given Christine Sinclair some rare downtime.

And while the Portland Thorns and Canadian national team captain is missing teammates and the competition, she is enjoying living life at a more sedate pace.

"I have a dog that is probably wondering what the heck is going on with me being home all the time now," Sinclair said Tuesday during a video conference call with media. "But I'm not going to lie, I actually like relaxing and not having a schedule because for most of my life I've lived with a schedule with when they tell you when to eat and when to sleep. It's nice to be able to do things on my own time."

Now in Portland, Sinclair was in Florida for much of this period of social distancing and while there rediscovered her passion for golf.

"I have never golfed so much in my life and I absolutely love it," she said.

She is happy to be able to work on individual soccer skills at Providence Park, thanks to voluntary sessions that began on May 8, and it is nice to see teammates new and old from a distance. But Sinclair doesn't view individual training at a distance as a significant step toward a return to competition.

"I still think we have a long way to go. It's a nice change-up, I'm not going to lie, from finding random fields and training in your garage to actually have a world-class pitch to train on and to actually throw on some Thorns gear," she said.

With two goals in late January during an 11-0 Olympic-qualifying win for Canada over Saint Kitts and Nevis, the former University of Portland star passed Abby Wambach of the United States to establish a new record for goals scored in international soccer matches. Sinclair now has 186 career goals for Canada.

It's a milestone she is proud of, but one she said weighed on her for more than a year as she approached the record.

"That record had been weighing on me for probably about a year and a half. As the goals were ticking away, you start to realize if I stay healthy then going to happen and it's just a matter of when," she said. "But it was a lot and it was stressful."

The stress built during the periods between international matches. Sinclair is grateful to have broken the record before the pandemic shut down sports.

"So yes, I'm very grateful that it was out of the way before this all started because who knows when we'll play again."

True to the character of the soft-spoken Sinclair, she said she rarely thinks about the record now but appreciates its significance. She joked that when Thorns goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer congratulated her Tuesday, Sinclair's reaction was: "What record? It didn't even dawn on me that that's what she was telling me. It seems like a different world ago that it happened."

In today's different world, the Thorns are keeping connected with regular video conference call meetings, some of them in small groups that have allowed Sinclair, who turns 37 on June 12, to get to know some of the newcomers. She understands the delay to the season is especially frustrating for rookies such as 19-year-old Sophia Smith and 22-year-old Morgan Weaver.

Sinclair, is not about to guess when a season might happen. Her outlook depends on the day.

"Obviously, I'm no expert. I personally go through (stages)," she said. "One day, I'm like, you can see progress is being made and somewhere down the line (soccer) is going to happen. And then the next day you're like, who are we kidding?"

The shutdown pushed the Olympics back to 2021, in addition to at least delaying the 2020 National Women's Soccer League season. Sinclair is trying to go with the flow, connecting with her family in British Columbia with video calls, watching TV, including Netflix and the ESPN series 'The Last Dance" about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

"You head into this year with goals and aspirations. You qualify for the Olympics, and then all of a sudden they're postponed. A little bit of a reset in terms of the focus for the year," Sinclair said, adding that she is. "trying to make the most of it."

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Twitter: @pauldanzer

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