News24 May 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 20-24 May


Athletes train at the National Institute of Sport in Paris as France eases lockdown measures (© AFP / 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 | 29 April - 3 May | 4-8 May | 9-13 May | 14-19 May

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak


Sunday 24 May


Up on the roof

19:40 - 24 May
Life in lockdown is hard for any athlete who doesn’t have access to a training facility. But it’s even tougher for those who have limited outdoor space of any sort.

Maryam Toosi, who holds the Iranian records at 100m (11.45), 200m (23.46) and 400m (52.95), lives in Shahr Ara, a densely populated area of Tehran where there are few open areas. Most of the time she is confined to her home and has even taken to training on the roof of her apartment block in a bid to stay in shape.

Maryam Toosi (AFP/Getty)

“I train at home, in any space I can use, like the rooftop, inside the house or even in the alley next to the apartment,” she told AFP. “There’s a green space there, and I train there when no one is around.”

“We have to keep our strength up, because competition will start later and we eventually have to challenge.”

Full article


Athletics stars say 'see you soon' to Ostrava

19:20 - 24 May
Ostrava's Golden Spike meeting was originally due to be held this week. The World Athletics Continental Tour meeting has now been postponed to 8 September, but a handful of the sport's top stars shared video messages to mark the weekend that they were set to have been in the Czech city.


World lead for Ge Manqi

14:20 - 24 May
Chinese 60m record-holder Ge Manqi smashed through the 23-second barrier over 200m for the first time in her career, winning in Fuzhou on Sunday in 22.69.

It's the fastest 200m clocking by a Chinese woman since 1997 and moves her to fifth on the national all-time list.


Saturday 23 May


Hammer victory for Halasz

22:15 - 23 May
Competing in a low-key competition in Szombathely, Hungary's world bronze medallist Bence Halasz spun to a comfortable victory in the hammer with a winning distance of 77.13m. Daniel Raba, the 2017 European U20 bronze medallist, was second with 72.34m. 2013 world U18 champion Reka Gyuratz won the women's contest with 69.49m.


United We Run

19:35 - 23 May
ASICS France has teamed up with for a charity challenge in which they’re asking the French running community to collectively run one million kilometres in the coming month.

If the target is reached, ASICS will donate €60,000 to Fondation de France.

ASICS is also encouraging runners to be a part of the biggest human chain on Instagram. “Post a photo of yourself, arms outstretched, running shoe on the heart and participate in the great human chain with #UnitedWeRun,” they ask. “Then tag three running lovers and invite them to join the movement!”

United We Run


Lockdown life in the fasting lane

19:20 - 23 May
For most Muslim athletes, training throughout Ramadan can be a challenge. But world 400m hurdles champion Dalilah Muhammad has had a different Ramadan experience this year.

Dalilah Muhammad

“When I originally got the news [about Tokyo 2020] I gave myself no more than 24 hours to be upset about it,” Muhammad told the Telegraph. “I then tried to look for the positives to see what I can do in this time and fasting was definitely the number one goal for me once I knew everything was cancelled.

“I don’t really fast too often, last year I tried but I wasn’t able to do the full 30 days,” she says. “With no major championship coming up, this was something I really wanted to do. I’m still training while fasting and it’s extremely difficult but not having to train so intensively helps.

“This Ramadan has been the most difficult, even more so than last year. In my mind, I thought since I wasn’t training this year it would be easier. But not having that community support as much and being at home alone is hard – all you want to do is eat.”

Full article


How foreign athletes are making the most of lockdown in Iten

14:30 - 23 May
Hundreds of athletes of all levels head to Kenya each year during the off season for altitude training. With lockdown measures in place, several elite endurance athletes are now stuck in Kenya for the foreseeable, but they’re not complaining.

Roman Fosti, who represented Estonia in the marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games and the past three World Championships, recently told the Daily Nation:

“I was supposed to run the Rotterdam Marathon to get qualification time for the Olympics Games but that has now been shelved and I’m left training alone ahead of the next season. I’m lucky because I have the support from the Estonian Olympic Committee where I have monthly salary and my club which has been supporting me. But my heart bleeds for those athletes who normally depend on races abroad and they are now suffering.”

Full article


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Friday 22 May


Duplantis: 'Why not be even better in 2021?'

16:00 - 22 May
Newly crowned pole vault world record-holder Mondo Duplantis claims he has shaken off the disappointment of a postponed Olympics, and promised to come back even stronger at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Duplantis cemented his status as the new king of athletics when he twice broke the world record in February, setting a breathtaking new mark of 6.18m in Glasgow.

But just as the Swedish-American superstar was hitting the form of his life, the coronavirus crisis stopped him dead in his tracks, with the postponement of Tokyo 2020 dealing a fatal blow to his dreams of Olympic glory this summer.

“It's a bit of a shame because of how much of a roll I was getting on, but of course I understand the decision,” says Duplantis in the Stockholm edition of the Wanda Diamond League Call Room, due to air on the series' Facebook and YouTube channels at 18.00 GMT this Sunday.

“Yeah I was jumping really well, but I kind of think: why not be even better next year?”

The coolly confident 20-year-old has been sitting out lockdown in his home state of Louisiana, training on the homemade pole vault runway in his back garden.

It was there that he learned how to vault from a very young age, and there where he cleared five metres 36 times in 30 minutes to come joint first in the World Athletics Ultimate Garden Clash earlier this month.

“Training’s been a little tougher, trying to go back to the roots. That’s where it all started: in the back yard,” he says.

“I’ve been playing a lot of golf, watching Netflix and playing video games,” he says. “But I definitely want to get back on the road and start competing again.”

Don't forget: Sunday at 18:00 GMT.


Kipchoge: 'COVID-19 is like an uphill course'

14:10 - 22 May
World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge participated in an Athlete365 webinar 10 days ago in which he advised athletes to stay strong and remain positive as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

“I’m a marathoner, and the marathon is like life,” he said. “We have many courses in the world – flat courses, uphill and downhill – and this period of COVID-19 is like an uphill course, where we need to live in a slow way, in a positive way, in order to finish the race well.”

Kipchoge also discussed some of the ways he and those around him have been helping those in need.

Eliud revealed that he has maintained a strict training regime during lockdown, but has adjusted his programme to focus more on strength work and long runs rather than speed and tactics, as he continues to communicate with his coach, Patrick Sang, via WhatsApp. He also revealed that he has been working with the Kenyan government and enlisting the support his sponsors to deliver food packages to lower-level athletes in Kenya, to give them the fuel required to continue their training and help their families.

“Our country right now is totally upside down,” Eliud explained to the Athlete365 community, as he showcased the power of athletes to be positive role models during this global health crisis.

“We have many athletes in Kenya, and for 80% of them what puts food on their table – and for their families – is participating in races in Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia for financial means. That’s what they were relying on. So last week, we provided about 70 athletes from five counties in Kenya with food for the whole month.”

Watch the entire 28-minute webinar here.


Sotomayor: Don't let the pandemic shatter your athletics dreams

11:40 - 22 May
In an interview with AFP, world high jump record-holder Javier Sotomayor urged athletes to keep their eyes on the proverbial prize even as lockdowns and a temporary dearth of competitive opportunities have made that increasingly difficult to do.

Javier Sotomayor

"The worst thing is to go back to zero," said Sotomayor, who has held the world record since 1988. He set the current mark of 2.45m in 1993, before some of the world's best present day jumpers were even born. "While at home, any exercise, any physical activity will always benefit your body and that will bear fruit."

Sotomayor has remained involved in athletics, serving as a coachand General Secretary of the Cuban Athletics Federation.

"Everything you do at home will be rewarded. To everyone that keeps going, that keeps thinking of their dreams and goals, who don't lose them because of what we're going through, they will come through this."



Dragila's safe approach to getting back back on runways

09:40 - 22 May
Stacy Dragila, a women's pole vault pioneer and 2000 Olympic champion in the event, published some thoughts on her Facebook page about how athletes can safely return to training and recommendations for safety even as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.

As such, Dragila said that she'll add several modifications to her popular pole vault summer camps along with competitions where results will be sanctioned.



Thursday 21 May


Spanish language NACACTFCA Athletics Coaches Congress attracts participants from 17 countries

15:00 - 21 May
After more than 25 hours of presentations and quality exchanges, the virtual congress of the North American and Caribbean Track and Field Coaches Association (NACACTFCA) successfully ended on Monday, based on the feedback from both participants and presenters.

Held over 14 days, the event featured more than 30 presenters from 17 countries across the Americas. Many of them have coached world and Olympic medallists, including Brazil’s Nelio Moura and Elson Miranda, Puerto Rico’s Héctor Amil and Cuba’s Daniel Osorio, Nelson Gutierrez, Raul Calderon, Guillermo de la Torre and Santiago Antúnez. The latter was named the 2010 Coach of the Year by the IAAF, today’s World Athletics.

Opened by NACACTFCA chairman Víctor López, Oscar Gadea, president of the South American Association of Athletics Coaches (ASEA) and Ximena Restrepo, Olympic medallist and the first female Vice President of the World Athletics Council, the congress followed one held in English in April.

At NACACTFCA’s invitation, the congress was also open to presenters and participants from South America. As Zoom platform reached maximum capacity, various online platforms, including the Mexican Federation’s Facebook broadcast the presentations for a final reach of over 23,000 viewers. Close to 2600 coaches joined NACACTFCA’s Facebook Group.

“As President of the IAAF Coaches Commission, I always pushed for fellow coaches to think big," said Lopez, himself a coach for 26 years at Rice University in Houston "I stressed on defining a philosophy, a mission. We need to know what we want: educate through sports. From there, we need to determine our mission: from nurturing future Olympians and more importantly human beings. We need to establish goals and they should be reflected on every training session."

The founding chairman of NACACTFCA called on all coaches to work in their respective countries to be recognized as any other educator and be financially rewarded as such.

“The quantity and quality of presenters help all of us participants to embrace new concepts and mindsets in order to create our own path. We are living in complex circumstances today and we need to be reassured with creative initiatives like this one,” said Gadea, who invited coaches to ASEA’s virtual congress to be held on 29-30 May.

The Annual NACACTFCA congress was first held in Jamaica in 1991. In its first virtual edition, it far exceeded expectations by gathering an attendance higher than all previous editions combined.

Powerpoint and video presentations can be accessed here.

from Javier Clavelo Robinson


The psychology behind your long quarantine runs

12:00 - 21 May
That's the title of this piece on that examines why some runners are craving long runs, no runs, or even both.

“These days, people crave time outside of their house, and they crave a structured schedule — running is something that can give them both of those things,” says sports psychologist Lennie Waite.

She continues:

“It’s a good chance for somebody to take control over their own personal improvement in an area like running. It allows them to spend a little bit more time in their own head, not following the instructions of a trainer or somebody leading a class, but listening to their own voice, and understanding how to push their body on their own, gaining autonomy.”

And for those not quite feeling it, Waite says that's fine too.

“These high-stress situations impact everybody psychologically really differently. There's not something that you should be doing other than making sure that exercise and running is having a positive impact in your life.”



Wednesday 20 May


500+ attend starters seminar

20:45 - 20 May
More than 500 Asian officials attended a two-day online seminar for starters, organised by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Monday and Tuesday (18-19).

World Athletics Vice-President Geoff Gardner was the chief guest of the seminar, while Allan Bell, one of the most experienced starters in the world, was a keynote speaker on the final day.

"We are very pleased with the way our online learning initiative has worked so far," said AFI President Adille Sumariwalla. "The participation of coaches and officials from SAAF member countries as well as few other foreign countries in our seminars have been really encouraging."

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Ingebrigtsen brothers target Norwegian 5km road record

14:45 - 20 May
Hear that noise? 🚨 It's the live athletics klaxon.

This evening in Stavanger, Jakob and Henrik Ingebrigtsen will be aiming to break the Norwegian 5km road record of 13:37.

Tune into the live stream at 8pm CEST.


Lyles: 'Just because the Olympics are gone, doesn't mean I won’t want to run'

12:35 - 20 May
World 200m champion Noah Lyles was relieved to see the Olympic Games postponed until next year. But with lockdown measures slowly easing in many countries, and tentative competition plans being put in place, the US sprinter says he'd be happy to race later this year.

"Right now we are just in that situation where we're trying to figure out if we are going to just maintain fitness," he said in an interview with the IOC. "And then if the Diamond League or any of these bigger track meets decide that they're going to be holding meets, we'll train for that. Of course, figuring out how we're going to get ready for the Olympics next year is our biggest plan. But we still want to maintain fitness and we still want to be able to have some type of a season. Just because the Olympics are gone doesn't mean I won’t want to run. My first love is running, so I want to do that."

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The tracks near to him are not yet open, so Lyles has been doing most of his recent sessions on grass.

"We can't really sprint because we're on grass. Grass is really taking out a lot of your force into the ground. And it's kind of a softer grass, so it's really hard to basically do anything. And again, it's a park area and it's really like a trail. It's not so much an open field. It's more like random spots that are just open in the woods. So it's been very limited. We found a little spot for us to do drills and maybe do some warming up, and just trying running on the trail for maybe about 300 metres tops. But there's hills in the middle of that, so it's not flat. You're not going to be out and going all out on this trail, especially if you have people walking dogs and stuff like that."


Swapping miles for aisles

12:00 - 20 May
Jeff Garmire was all set to become a professional athlete this year. The US ultra-runner had planned on competing at the legendary Barkley Marathons and then wanted to attempt to break two of the most prestigious records in the ultra-endurance world: the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail speed records.

But in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Garmire has had to put those plans on hold. To ensure he can make ends meet between now and the resumption of international races, he has taken on a job at a local grocery store.

"In January, I publicly announced my upcoming attempts at breaking both the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail records," he said. "Financial commitments from companies and organisations started falling into place. Closing the deal on funding my entire year seemed imminent, and I was one signature away from my dream life.

"Then it all started to crumble. Within weeks, I had gone from the verge of being a fully sponsored professional athlete to unemployed.

"This wasn’t how I thought I’d be spending my spring, but life had changed nearly overnight, and I was lucky to have a job at all."

Full article


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 | 29 April - 3 May | 4-8 May | 9-13 May | 14-19 May