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Mother of Indiana Olympian 'heartbroken' to have to watch Games from afar

Cyclist Chloe Dygert's mother, Gretchen Shortall, and other Olympic parents will have to watch their athletes compete on TV due to pandemic restrictions in Tokyo.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — The decision to close the Tokyo Olympics to fans has left the families of the athletes heartbroken.

Gretchen Shortall was cutting hair as usual Monday at Everyday Joe's, her barbershop in Brownsburg. But her heart is in Tokyo, where her daughter, Chloe Dygert, will compete in three Olympic cycling events starting this weekend.

"I've seen her competitions before and we've seen world events and I've been to several of those. But being that this is the Olympics, the world stage, the Olympics comes every four years. What a neat event, a neat experience for her and I'd just like to be there and share it with her. It's tough," Shortall said.

She already bought plane tickets and had a place to stay in Japan when the Olympic Games were postponed in 2020. The pandemic wiped out any chance of watching Chloe in person.

"I'm glad they're getting it in. But it's a shame that we can't be there, fans can't be there and that's a big part of their morale. They like to hear that, you know. They want to hear you cheer them on," Shortall said.

RELATED: Meet the Hoosiers going for gold at this year's Olympics

Shortall's barbershop celebrates Dygert's cycling success, with mementos of her career lining the walls.

Dygert won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics. Shortall was watching with friends and family in Brownsburg.

(NOTE: The video below is from a 2016 story.)

She watched in horror when her daughter crashed in Italy last September and suffered a serious cut to her leg. But her recovery is complete for her second Olympic Games.

RELATED: Chloé Dygert comes back from leg injury and wins women's time trial in Tokyo Games tune-up

"Oh, it just brings tears to my eyes. I just, I can't even describe it. It's amazing. It's wonderful. It's so many things rolled up into one and here I'm watching my daughter on TV and it's my child," Shortall said.

Mom is already hoping there might be a trip to Paris for the 2024 Games.

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