News03 May 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 29 April - 3 May


A runner in Chicago (© Getty Images)

Here we continue to share stories and updates about how the athletics world is adjusting to and coping with the spread of Covid-19.

If you're an athlete, race organiser or manager with a story to tell, please get in touch so we can share your story, too.

Previous updates:
20-22 March
23-25 March
26-28 March
29-31 March
1-3 April
4-8 April
9-12 April
13-17 April
18-22 April
23-28 April

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak

Sunday 3 May 


It's a tie!

18:30 - 3 May
The inaugural Ultimate Garden Clash – Pole Vault Edition ended in a tie as world record-holder Mondo Duplantis and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie beat two-time world champion Sam Kendricks in a unique three-way competition.

The contest, devised by the three pole vaulters, was a race to see who could produce the most 5.00m vaults within a 30-minute period, all from the comfort and safety of their own back gardens.

Duplantis led for most of the way, but Lavillenie matched the young Swede's tally before the timer ran out. The duo ended with 36 vaults apiece while Kendricks tallied 26.

In case you missed it, you can watch it all back:


For Norman and Benjamin, Olympic postponement means greater anticipation for Tokyo

15:40 - 3 May
Not only are Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin training partners and housemates, they also happen to be two of the best one-lappers in the world.

They've been able to continue their training - albeit in a modified manner - in recent weeks, but in an interview with, they explained that they were still frustrated by the Olympic postponement because they had been in great form heading into the 2020 season.

"We've been finding alternate ways to practice and trying to stay inside as much as possible," said Norman, the world leader over 400m last year. "We're trying to stay as consistent as possible when it comes to our daily routine, in preparation for a hopeful season."

"We've been very precautious," added Benjamin, the world 400m hurdles silver medallist. "When we go to practice, we wear masks and we try to stay six feet away from each other. Our coach (Quincy Watts) is very vigilant with things like that."

Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin

"It was a little bit frustrating at first, especially when we didn't know the severity of what was going on in the world," Norman said of the Olympic postponement. "Rai and I had put in so much work in the off season to prepare for the Olympics, and knowing what kind of shape we were in was very exciting. We were really prepared and ready to compete.

"But looking at the whole picture, it's much better that the Olympics is postponed. And although it's unfortunate, I think the build-up and anticipation for Tokyo 2021 is going to be a lot greater than what it was this year."

The full interview covers their feelings about their performances at last year's World Championships, while Benjamin also talks about his family and friends being near the New Rochelle area that was significantly affected by Covid-19.


I would have been ready for 2020, says Rudisha

11:40 - 3 May
David Rudisha's last race was almost three years ago. The world 800m record-holder and two-time Olympic champion has battled persistent injuries since 2017 and his chances of making a return to the top level appeared slim.

But in recent months the 31-year-old Kenyan had managed to get in a solid block of quality training and was looking forward to racing again in 2020. Like all elite athletes the world over, though, he is now putting his competitive come back on hold.

"My injury had healed and my medical specialist had given me a clean bill of health," he told the Daily Nation. "Before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted my daily workout, I had been training hard and I was almost hitting my top form just a few months before the Olympic Games."

"Athletes are in a catch-22 situation. There is no sign of things returning back to normalcy any time soon. Even as they train alone, they can’t push their bodies to maximum limit because they don’t know when competition will resume."

"I think (postponing the Olympics) was a wise decision until everything comes back to normal there is no point of risking athletes lives for now. Many athletes are slowly adjusting to the harsh realities and hopefully the world will soon find a permanent and lasting solution to this pandemic."

Full article

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Saturday 2 May 


Manangoi misses the camaraderie

15:50 - 2 May
Before the spread of the coronavirus, Elijah Manangoi spent most of his days training alongside the likes of Timothy Cheruiyot, his successor as world 1500m champion.

But now the Kenyan middle-distance runner is having to get used to training alone as he tries to prepare for a return to racing.

Elijah Manangoi

"When this thing came up, we (everyone in the Rongai Athletics Club) went to their families," he told Enda, in an interview published on "I am training alone; I don’t have a team.

"In terms of morale, that can be quite tough you know. Missing out on that camaraderie must be the most challenging bit for every runner in Kenya and across the world, not just in my club."

Full article


The best place for an athlete to be during lockdown

15:20 - 2 May
Given the choice, many athletes would probably opt to be stuck in a national-standard training facility while in lockdown.

That's what has happened with a group of India's leading javelin throwers. They had been on a training camp in South Africa and Turkey a few weeks ago but returned to India when the pandemic was starting to spread. Upon their return to India, they were asked to spend 14 days in quarantine at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, but then Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lockdown and people were forbidden to travel.

Annu Rani

Annu Rani, the Indian record-holder in the javelin, is among the group athletes currently staying at the facility in Patiala.

"There is a small area near our hostel," she told the Hindustan Times. "I jog for around 15-20 minutes and then do stepping for some time. I also do a few of the core exercises. There are some weights with us so I am doing them to keep up my fitness levels.

"I watch videos of big players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Phelps. How they started the sport, and what struggles they faced in their careers, and how they got past through them. You get to learn a lot from learning about them."

Full article


Big weekend of international action

13:10 - 2 May
Athletics fans worldwide are looking forward to the Ultimate Garden Clash - Pole Vault Edition on Sunday, but there's more international action ahead of that.

A few days after Belarus hosted a multi-location shot put contest, a similar competition will take place in Britain today, featuring some of the country's leading throwers. The elite section of the 'Valhalla Virtual Shot Put Competition' will be streamed live, while the official instagram account is inviting people to submit their marks from the comfort and safety of their own gardens and nearby parks.

Here's one of the entries from an athlete in South Africa:

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Friday 1 May 


Good news from the WMRA - November's World Mountain Running Championships still on, for now

16:30 - 1 May
In a statement released today, the World Mountain Running Association said that all systems are still go for the 36th edition of the championships, slated for 13-14 November in Haria, on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, located off the coast of southern Morocco.

The statement in full:

In an especially tough year, focusing on our passion and staying positive is something that helps us to maintain our mood, our mental health and our shape. 2020 has not started as expected, but we wish to end it in a very special way with an amazing World Mountain Running Championship.

This is why we are working hard and full of hope keeping in mind that we have a spectacular objective for November. Trusting that the health situation is normalized by then, the 36th World Mountain Running Championships – Haría – Lanzarote – Spain November 2020 will become a powerful race for the season ending and most likely the only off-road world championship in the year.

This event will land for the first time in Spain, and it will be held in the wonderful town of Haría, located at the north of Lanzarote, a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean. The organisation has not lost track in order to offer an unforgettable event and has already defined with the WMRA some of the most relevant matters for the World Championships: courses, logistics, ceremonies, the closing party... Everything is getting ready for this unique event for the island.

The distances and routes offered will be exactly the same for the Mountain Running World Championships and for the Open race after adjusting them for 2020. On the morning of Friday, November 13, the Classic race of the World Championships will be held, a race with a predominantly uphill course that will be divided into two distances: 5km for juniors and 12km for seniors.

The 5km event will host the World Championship in junior category and will have an Open event called HXL 5. The race will start from the town of Haría and has the finish line at Peñas del Chache.

Beside this, the 12km race will host the Classic World Mountain Running Championship and in its Open modality it will give any participant the opportunity to run the same course with the start in Caleta de Famara and the finish line in Peñas del Chache.

For Saturday, November 14, one of the greatest highlights of the year will be with the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship, which will have the traditional route of the Haría Extreme Lanzarote Marathon with the lava climbing on the way to Guinate as an iconic image of the race.

A special event which will have a big party for an unforgettable ending and which will give the chance to the athletes and delegations to discover the unique island of Lanzarote.


World Athletics Relays Silesia 2021 - one year to go

15:15 - 1 May
And our colleagues, hosts and Polish athletes are counting the days. And who can blame them?



Duplantis, Kendricks and Lavillenie set for Ultimate Garden Clash – Pole Vault Edition

13:15 - 1 May
It's on. Live competition!

Much of the world may be in lockdown, but with the use of modern technology, some of the greatest athletes on the planet will compete against one another on Sunday 3 May in the Ultimate Garden Clash – Pole Vault Edition.

World record-holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden, two-time world champion Sam Kendricks of the USA and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France will be connected via a live video link as they compete from the comfort and safety of their own back gardens in a unique competition for the ages.

Streamed on the World Athletics YouTubeTwitter and Facebook pages, the competition will be held on Sunday between 5-6pm CEST – weather permitting – and will span three locations; Lavillenie will vault from his home in Clermont-Ferrand, Kendricks will compete from his back garden in Oxford, Mississippi, and Duplantis will take part from his base in Lafayette, Louisiana.



Weltklasse Zurich launches 'OneMillionRun'

12:30 - 1 May
In partnership with Datasport, iRewind and Schweizer Sporthilfe, Weltklasse Zurich has launched the 'OneMillionRun', a call to Swiss citizens to collectively run 1 million kilometres over 48 hours on 30 and 31 May.

With Switzerland beginning to ease some of its lockdown restrictions, organisers hope that the initiative will be "a starting signal for all of Switzerland" to get the entire country moving again, step by step. While all major sporting events in the country remain banned through the end of August, organisers are inviting walkers, hikers, runners and sports fans of all abilities to take part.

"As promoters of an international major event and of the largest initiative for young talents, the UBS Kids Cup, we have a social responsibility," said Christoph Joho, Weltklasse Zürich Co-Meeting Director.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe is also excited about the initiative.

“We have seen our athletes and our fans share workouts and motivate each other to keep fit during the weeks of lockdown," Coe said. "I know that for millions of people around the world going for a run or a walk has been a lifeline during this time, so I love the concept of countries ‘running out of lockdown together’. This is a creative and innovative idea from our Zurich Diamond League friends that keeps people connected with athletics and enables them to take part, together, in something they all enjoy. I hope all of Switzerland takes part.”

More information about the run and registration info is here (German, Italian and French):


Financially, coronavirus hits African athletes hard

10:35 - 1 May
More insight into the financial impact coronavirus-related postponements and cancellations have had on athletics, specifically in Africa. As with many industries, according to this BBC report, the picture is fairly bleak.

On the road running side of things, Dutch athletics agent Michel Boeting said, "It is going to be a disaster for the athletes."

"Half of the year for road race athletes is already gone with all the races cancelled. This means that athletes without contracts will go to an income of zero for the first six-seven months of the year, and those with contracts will lose 40-70% of their income."

Nijel Amos, the 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist and third fastest man of all-time over the distance, said he's already lost US$20,000 in appearance fees this year, a substantial portion of his earnings.

"It's a struggling time for us athletes just to keep our career going, let alone trying to get to the next phase of anything," says Amos.

"Are organisations going to keep funding us as if we're getting ready for the Games or are they going to pause that funding until next year? And if they pause that funding, how much damage is that for us? You know, it's a really tough time being an athlete right now."

Read the full story.


Thursday 30 April 


What does Colombian discus throw record holder Mauricio Ortega want, more than anything?

18:30 - 30 April
A hug. One from his mother Miriam and one from his girlfriend Marian. And another from his brother Santiago, who all live in Medellin.

Ortega is currently stuck in Vigo, Spain, where he trains under coach Frank Casanas.

As soon as a flight becomes available, Ortega said, "the first thing I will do is go to my country, give them a hug and a kiss."

More with the Colombian gentle giant on


Douwe Amels on 'training outside'

15:30 - 30 April
As in, outside of facilities that the Dutch high jumper has been used to training in before they were closed six weeks ago.

"We’ve been able to do much more than I first thought possible," he said.


Athletissima postponed

11:45 - 30 April
Organisers of Lausanne's Athletissima announced today that this year's meeting, originally scheduled for 20 August, will be postponed.

The meeting's announcement in full:

With the decision of the Swiss Federal Government and the ongoing pandemic, we have regretfully taken the decision that Athletissima will not take place on the 20 August.

It is currently impossible to allow a high number of people to gather in a confined area, such as a stadium, by the end of August.

We will be reviewing alternative options and formats that could still be considered in order to offer athletes the possibility to compete.

We have experienced difficult periods in the past. However, the global health crisis associated with Covid19 is of an entirely different magnitude.

The pandemic affects everyone and the whole world is impacted. It is our responsibility to take this decision.

Finally, we express our full support to those affected by the disease, as well as all those who are fighting it.

We also spare a thought for all athletes who continue their preparation and training.


Wednesday 29 April 


Francesco Perrone, 1930-2020

17:50 - 29 April
World Athletics is saddened to hear that Italian distance runner Francesco Perrone died of Covid-19 on Monday (27) at the age of 89.

Born in Cellino San Marco in 1930, Perrone won Italian titles over 5000m, 10,000m, cross country and the marathon throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He represented Italy in the marathon at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games on home soil and placed 37th, the highest finisher from the host nation.

Francesco Perrone


Distance runners less affected, says Huddle

17:30 - 29 April
The closure of training facilities has impacted many sports around the world, not least athletics.

But while athletes in technical track and field events have had to significantly adapt their training in recent months, USA’s Molly Huddle says she feels lucky to be a distance runner at the moment as her training is largely unaffected.

Molly Huddle

“Distance runners are probably the luckiest of all the Olympic sports,” said Huddle, who holds the North American records in the 10,000m and half marathon. “Ideally, you are on the track. If push comes to shove, you don’t need a track to work out. You can modify and go on a remote road somewhere.”

The 35-year-old dropped out of the recent US Olympic Marathon Trials, but now has time on her side to prepare for a tilt at making the US Olympic team in the 10,000m - the event in which she finished sixth at the 2016 Olympic Games.

“It’s fine. I’m not complaining,” she told the Indy Star. “The only thing that’s changing the training is we don’t really have some races for a really long time.”

Full article


Gabius ponders swapping flats for scrubs

13:50 - 29 April
German marathon record-holder Arne Gabius hasn't trained since Germany went into lockdown.

The 2012 European 5000m silver medallist had been hoping to gain an Olympic qualifying mark at a spring marathon with a view to competing at the Tokyo Games later in the year. But now that he no longer has to train for either of those short-term goals, the 39-year-old has made steps to fast-forward his medical career.

Arne Gabius

"In the current situation, you have to put things that are not so important behind," said Gabius, who has a medical degree. "This also includes sport because there will be no competitions for the foreseeable future.

"I wanted to end my competitive sports career at the end of this year and then work as a doctor," added the 2:08:33 marathon runner. "Now I'm looking for part-time employment as an assistant doctor."

Full article


Training facilities set to re-open in Poland

10:50 - 29 April
And European 400m champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic is very excited about that.

As of 4 May, sporting venues and training facilities in Poland will begin to re-open.


Previous updates:
20-22 March
23-25 March
26-28 March
29-31 March
1-3 April
4-8 April
9-12 April
13-17 April
18-22 April
23-28 April