A runner at the reopening of the Biblioteca degli Alberi park in Milan as lockdown is relaxed on 4 May (© 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.
Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak
Wednesday 13 May
Advice from solitary workers within athletics
23:20 - 13 May
For the not-insignificant percentage of people who already work from home as sole traders, freelancers or solitary workers, adapting to life in lockdown has generally not been too much of a challenge.
Race Results Weekly recently spoke to a range of people in such a position, including athlete representative Brendan Reilly, jewellery maker Erica Sara and coach Greg McMillan.
With no races for his athletes to compete in, Reilly’s workload has significantly reduced. His main focus is providing reassurance and practical advice to his clients.
“Obviously I am advising them not to overdo it on the training side, especially an athlete at the end of their career,” said Reilly, who manages two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat. “All of those races she wanted to do in July and August; they don't exist.”
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Sara’s business, meanwhile, appears to be in a solid position. “I thought there would be a more noticeable change,” said Sara, who makes necklaces with mantras given to her by the likes of Alysia Montaño, Deena Kastor, and Molly Huddle. “In the beginning there was a small little dip, but people want to help small business and keep us alive.”
McMillan, like his fellow solitary workers, says he always benefits from making time for a run each day.
“I think like everything else you have to experiment and find what works for you,” he said. “I encourage people to get set up. Treat it like your workplace. They should try to carve out some space.”
Lowe hopeful of reaching full fitness by 2021
20:20 - 13 May
For any athlete heading into 2020 short of their best form, the postponement of the Olympic Games was a welcome relief.
US high jumper Chaunte Lowe's set-back has been anything but minor. The 2005 world silver medallist was diagnosed last year with an aggressive form of breast cancer that required a double mastectomy and five months chemotherapy.
Lowe, a mother of three, finished fourth on countback at the 2016 Olympic Games, having cleared the same height as eventual winner Ruth Beitia. She last competed in 2017 but had resumed training last year in a bid to reach a fifth Olympic Games.
She will be 37 by the time of the 2021 Olympic Games, but she feels the extra time to prepare will outweigh any age disadvantage she may have.
"There’s no doubt about it," she told Reuters when asked if the new timeline improves her chances of once again making the US team. "But then at the same time you have to stay focused that much longer."
"Surprisingly, I feel great. "I'm to the point where I'm running times that I haven't run in years. I'm able to lift weights that I haven’t lifted in a long time. I'm starting to feel like myself."
Czech athletes prepare to get back on track
15:15 - 13 May
As part of the ‘Back on Track’ project in the Czech Republic, more than 165 athletics competitions will be held across the country, starting from 1 June.
Some of the leading Czech athletes will be in action that day at meetings in Kladno, Pilsen and Kolin, with all three of the competitions being shown on Czech TV. A live stream will also be available to viewers around the world.
“I am very glad that the athletics clubs have taken our challenge and thanks to our combined effort we have been able to significantly exceed our originally planned 100 athletics meetings,” said Czech Athletics Federation President Libor Varhaník. “I am excited that the Czech athletics family will be together at the start in such large numbers and we will open the competitive season. We are working hard to use this opportunity to show the strength, coherence and creativity of athletics.”
Javelin world record-holder Babora Spotakova, world indoor shot put bronze medallist Tomas Stanek and three-time world indoor 400m champion Pavel Maslak are all set to appear in Kladno, competing in a way that falls in line with current government rules.
Spotakova will take on European silver medallist Nikola Ogrodnikova, 2017 European U20 champion Nikol Tabackova and two-time national champion Petra Andrejskova.
In the shot put, Stanek takes on two-time European indoor bronze medallist Ladislav Prasil, while Maslak will contest the 300m along with fellow 2017 European indoor 4x400m bronze medallists Jan Tesar and Patrik Sorm.
Field events will be the main focus in Pilsen, where 2016 world U20 champion Michaela Hruba will contest the high jump and three-time Olympic finalist Jan Kudlicka will compete in the pole vault. The highlight of the Kolin meeting is expected to be the men’s 1000m where national 800m champion Filip Snejdr takes on European Youth Olympic Festival winner Jakub Davidik.
Tuesday 12 May
Kaul and fellow German stars giving back
20:15 - 12 May
To help local sports clubs survive the current crisis, a group of leading German sports stars have donated items of kit to the DOSB’s ‘support your sport’ fund-raising initiative.
For each item sold, buyers will also earn entries into a draw to win tickets for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, which will now be held next year.
World decathlon champion Niklas Kaul has offered the spikes he wore in the 1500m en route to winning gold at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
“True to the motto ‘great success starts small’, I also started out in a small club and I owe a lot to it,” he posted on Instagram. “That is exactly why I, together with the home team, want to support these clubs in the current crisis and give something back.”
Other track and field athletes with items in the sale include 2017 world decathlon bronze medallist Kai Kazmirek, European 100m silver medallist Gina Luckenkemper, European 200m finalist Laura Muller and marathon-running twins Anna and Lisa Hahner.
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Purrier putting in the work
16:55 - 12 May
US middle-distance runner Elle Purrier was one of the big breakthrough performers of the 2020 indoor season.
She clocked a North American indoor mile record of 4:16.85, the second-fastest indoor performance in history, and beat a quality field to win over two miles at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Boston.
Ordinarily, the 25-year-old would have been looking to open her outdoor season around about now. But instead of racing, Purrier has been spending more time on her family's dairy farm in north Vermont.
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"It’s been pretty nice, honestly, just to be able to see my family and be at the barn and everything," she told Track and Field News. "I’ve been milking and obviously you have to feed the cows every day and scrape and, I don’t know, there’s always little jobs to do around outside.
"I’m able to get outside and not feel cooped up like I’m sure a lot of people do in the city," she added. "Training by myself is definitely challenging and a little bit lonely. But I think I’ve made the most of it."
International athletics season announced for August to October 2020
14:25 - 12 May
An international athletics season of one-day meetings is taking shape between August and October this year following the commitment of most Continental Tour Gold and Wanda Diamond League meeting directors to organise their events on rescheduled dates in 2020.
A small number of countries will be able to stage meetings through June and July (Oslo’s Bislett Games will go ahead in an altered format called The Impossible Games on 11 June), but the international season is likely to commence in earnest directly after the National Championships window of 8-9 August.
The first World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting of the year, the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, will be held on 11 August.
Monday 11 May
McBride donates groceries to local families
19:30 - 11 May
Canadian 800m record-holder Brandon McBride recently finished the book, The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea, in which the authors argue that a business owner should make giving rather than getting their top priority.
He took that as a sign, the CBC reports:
McBride, 25, reached out to a social worker in his hometown of Windsor, Ont., who suggested they purchase grocery cards and sent addresses for eight families.
The middle-distance runner and his girlfriend visited a local FreshCo and spent between $100 and $200 for each card depending on the size of family.
"You hear about people laid off from work, their bills are piling up and their rent and car payments are still due. I just wanted to try to make a difference," said McBride, who continues to run five days a week with an eye on the Tokyo Olympics, which was rescheduled to next July. "I wanted to keep everyone safe and myself safe, so we put the cards in mailboxes.
In long-game mode, Benjamin and his training partners taking it to the streets, for now
17:30 - 11 May
With much of California - Rai Benjamin's current base - still under lockdown, the 400m hurdler and training partners Michael Norman, Kendall Ellis and Candace Hill have been forced to train in the streets.
In another excellent Track & Field News interview, the world silver medallist explains:
We have no access to tracks currently. It’s been like that for the past four or five weeks. So we’ve been actually training in some suburban areas where it isn’t so busy and we can run in the street. We go about three or four times a week, just trying to keep some level of fitness and it’s kind of hard in that we’re running on the street and not on the track.
I mean, given that we’re in LA, it’s kind of hard to find (grassy areas or fields). It’s mostly a city and the major parks are closed here so we definitely don’t have access to much grass. So we’ve resorted to running on the streets, on the concrete so that’s been a reality for the past few weeks now.
And, on training with particular goal this season in mind:
It’s a puzzle. Sometimes it feels like we’re just out there with no end in sight. But here and there we hear there’s going to be a meet in late August, Indonesia in July. But it’s kind of hard to know that for sure because you know every day this virus is changing and it’s affecting a lot of people and a lot of areas. And, you know, in all honesty, we don’t know the full severity of it and what that impact is. So it’s kind of hard to know that there’s daylight at the end of this and knowing that if they have meets it’s not going to be what people think it is.
For now, Rohler happily entrenched in crocodile mode
15:45 - 11 May
What, exactly, does Thomas Rohler, the Olympic javelin champion, mean by that?
In an interview with OlympicChannel.com, Rohler explains:
"Crocodiles can hang out for quite some time, not even moving much, but they're waiting for their food. They can be super patient.
"But at the same time, they need to have a high fitness level so that the next hunt is very successful. That's the same with sports. We're all sitting waiting, and then we have to be ready."
And, on his event's 100-metre barrier:
"The average to win a normal competition these days is around 90 metres depending on the conditions and the competitors. So we are quite far away still from the hundred. But from the physical point of view it's just a little, small, small, small bit of speed, a little bit more efficiency in the flight of the javelin and soon it goes that way. So it's tough to say who and when we'll do it, but I'm very sure that it's going to happen one day."
A visit to Isene's lockdown training camp, one month ahead of Oslo's Impossible Games
14:25 - 11 May
Norwegian Ola Stunes Isene, a finalist in the discus at last year's World Championships, will finally make his 2020 debut - one month from today at Oslo's Impossible Games set for 11 June.
Photographer Vegard Grøtt of Bildbyran visited the thrower at this farm in Lier, a town of about 25,000 located 40 kilometres southwest of Oslo and shared these photos for Bislett Games organisers, who are hosting the Impossible Games.
In Spain, Ben vs Husillos 500m challenge is on
11:00 - 11 May
Spanish sport daily AS reports that Adrian Ben, a World Championships 800m finalist last year, and Oscar Husillos, who raced to 400m and 4x400m silver at the last year's European Indoor Championships, will meet in a head-to-head face-off over 500m in July.
The idea for the challenge, dubbed the Desafío 500, came to Ben as he was pedaling at home in Viveiro on his exercise bike.
"I thought, everything is at a standstill as far as competitions are concerned, and I want people to know that athletics has not fallen asleep," the 21-year-old said. "So, I thought, why not create a duel with Husillos?"
Details are still being ironed out, but will comply with all national restrictions on public gatherings that will be in place. The first option, Husillos said, will be to try it in the same stadium, in an actual race, head-to-head. If that won't be allowed, it would be organised as a time trial on the same track. Barring that, they'd race remotely on different tracks - Husillos in Palencia and Ben in Lugo - and broadcast it on some form.
"What we want is for people to enjoy the race, to see athletics and to make it clear that we are adapting to the situation we have," Ben added. "What better than a full blast 500m between an 800m runner and a 400m runner?"
"Thinking about a duel gets you off the couch and charges your batteries," Husillos said.
Oh: AS reporter Juanma Bellon is wondering: who do you think will win?
¿Quién ganara?— juanma bellón (@juanmacorre) May 10, 2020
Sunday 10 May
Watch party finale tonight
18:30 - 10 May
We hope you enjoyed reliving the action from last year's sensational World Championships during our evening watch parties.
We conclude this evening with a look back at both the men's and women's 4x400m relays.
Enjoy it here or watch on YouTube to join in the conversation.
Kopron's new training ground, 'in the middle of nowhere'
15:45 - 10 May
Or so it seems through these beautiful images created by photographer Aleksandra Szmigiel who captured Polish hammer thrower Malwina Kopron training in her new practice facility.
With a little help from his friends, Kopron's grandfather (and coach), Witold Kopron, built this throwing area for his granddaughter in a nearby empty field.
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Trening w szczerym polu z @malwinakopron ⚒ To była ciężka praca Malwiny w pięknych okolicznościach przyrody i w super atmosferze 😍 Lekkoatleci wiedzą jak sobie poradzić w trudnych czasach. Trener i dziadek Malwiny, pan Witold Kopron, dzięki życzliwości przyjaciół wybudował rzutnię na działce w lesie 👏 Mam nadzieję, że będziemy to wspominać z dużym uśmiechem, kiedy Malwa rzuci po medal w Tokio 🤗 #hammerthrow #sports #covid19 #training #sonyalpha #athlete #sportsgirl #stronggirl #polishgirl
"I hope we will remember it with a big smile when Malwa throws (to) a medal in Tokyo," Szmigiel says.
German federation launches #TrueAthletes@Home health and exercise initiative
11:00 - 10 May
With restrictions on social gatherings still in force, the TrueAthletes@Home initiative by the German Athletics Association (DLV), launched last month, provides a wealth of resources to help everyone stay fit and healthy.
The information provided spans the gamut. There are warm-up programmes, detailed physical and mental fitness training tips, healthy recipes and nutrition advice, along with plenty of other health, medical and fitness information for people of all ages.
Among the features is a daily workout video targeting elementary school children by world long jump champion Malaika Mihambo. There's even a fitness test to help determine how fit you are and a guide on how to make your own exercise equipment.
The information is in German, but your browser's translation options should do the trick. Start here.
Saturday 9 May
Kipchoge leads from the front
22:15 - 9 May
World Athlete of the Year Eliud Kipchoge is leading the way in the relief efforts for vulnerable athletes in the Rift Valley.
The Olympic marathon champion and world record-holder spent Friday in Kericho County distributing food to those in need. He had been chosen as the ambassador of the relief project by the Ministry of Sport to come to the aid of athletes who have lost potential income owing to cancellation of races in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are happy to collaborate with @EliudKipchoge in extending the Sports COVID 19 Stimulus&Food Program to athletes in the North Rift Region. We are targeting atleast 1530 sportspersons drawn from various disciplines across the country with 901 “most in need” on our priority list pic.twitter.com/OfQM7dKyow— AMB.(Dr.) Amina C. Mohamed (@AMB_A_Mohammed) May 9, 2020
Gong: ‘I can afford one more year’
16:05 - 9 May
When Gong Lijiao stepped on to the top of the podium at the World Championships last year, she likely envisaged – or at least hoped – that she’d be doing the same in Tokyo in the summer of 2020.
Much has changed since then, of course. And despite having to contend with a few niggling injury and health concerns in recent years, the Chinese shot putter feels her body will hold out until 2021.
“I was mentally prepared for the announcement of the postponed Olympics,” she says. “At that point, the domestic epidemic was under control but it was becoming more and more serious internationally. Thankfully the Games were not cancelled.
“It’s one more year, I can still afford it. All I have to do is work hard to adjust and try to keep the best state until next year. Now the focus is on recuperating from a knee injury and maintaining fitness.
“We have changed the training plan now,” added Gong, who has donated 10,000 yuan to the city of Wuhan. “Originally this period was very important, but now we’re basically maintaining my fitness and incorporating some basic physical exercises every day.”
Life in lockdown in Ecuador
13:15 - 9 May
Ecuador has been one of the hardest-hit Latin American nations by the coronavirus pandemic.
People are not allowed to leave their homes at all between the hours of 2pm and 5am. Outside of that curfew, they can only go out to get food, for essential work, or for health-related reasons, wearing masks and gloves.
Those measures make training quite difficult for all sportspeople, not least endurance athletes who are used to logging dozens of kilometres outdoors every week. Race walkers Erica de Sena of Brazil and her husband Andres Chocho of Ecuador have been trying their best to adapt.
Based in the Ecuadorian city of Cuenca for most of the year, De Sena hasn’t been able to return to her home country of Brazil in recent weeks. And the duo have taken to an indoor treadmill for much of their training.
“We are awaiting the decision of the Ecuadorian government to mitigate the quarantine,” says De Sena, who finished fourth in the 20km race walk at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. “These are difficult times at home. We adapted some training sessions, but it is difficult to do so. I'm used to an outdoor routine and it’s difficult here.”
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