US sprinter Natasha Hastings (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 25-31 May


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 | 20-24 May

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak



Sunday 31 May

 

Weisshaidinger again throws beyond 68 metres in Schwechat-Rannersdorf

18:15 - 31 May
Lukas Weisshaidinger's strong form continued today at another set of low key discus throw competitions in Schwechat-Rannersdorf, Austria, near Vienna.

Throwing in unseasonably cool (9 C), rainy but windless conditions, the 2019 world bronze medallist reached 68.56m in the first competition, not far from his 68.63m season's best achieved six days ago at the same venue, and the third best throw of his career. His best effort in the second competition was 65.50m.

"It was very difficult to throw today, I never expected to throw more than 68 metres today," said Weishaidinger, who warmed up for the competition in his car.

 

"I am really in great shape. In the next days or weeks I will try again to better my record."

His coach Gregor Hogler was impressed.

"It was the best throw from Lukas ever," he said. "68.56 without wind assistance and only 9 degrees - that's incredible good. I never expected that. A new record is just a question of time. That will happen for sure this year!"

In line with Austria's restrictions on public gatherings, only 10 people were at the competition: three throwers, two coaches, three judges and two members from Weisshaidinger's management team.

From Olaf Brockmann

 

Suarez leads more than 100 in Whatsapp workouts

12:45 - 31 May
Two-time Olympic decathlon bronze medallist Leonel Suarez has been keeping busy leading workouts for more than a hundred people via a Whatsapp group. The group consists of athletes from across Cuba's sporting landscape.

"All my teammates from the combined events team and others from athletics: Andy Díaz, Roberto Janet, Yorgelis Rodríguez and Maykel Massó, for example. Friends from other sports take part such as judo, karate girls, taekwondo girls, badminton players and others. There are many who do not do all the routines, but they do grab some things to complement some of their workouts."

Hampered by injury in recent years, the 32-year-old nonetheless hasn't decided to hang up his competitive spikes just yet, hoping that one more Olympic appearance is in the cards. But when he does, he is considering a career in coaching.

"I graduated from Physical Education and Sports so the possibility of becoming a coach is always there. I really like to help everyone in the sport and tell them about my experiences and give them the best advice possible."

More from Cubahora.

 

Long-term effects on athletes who had Covid-19

10:30 - 31 May
In this New York Times piece, reporter Andrew Keh speaks with athletes who have contracted Covid-19 and with physicians who have treated them or who are studying the virus to see what the disease's long-term effects on athletes may be.

The story doesn't mention any track and field athletes specifically, but many of the problems discussed are similar to those that athletes in our sport who were infected by the coronavirus have suffered.

Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary physician and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, said that, like much about the disease, the long-term consequences for athletes who contract it are not fully understood. Athletes, though, represent interesting case studies for doctors, given their generally good baseline health and nuanced awareness of their own bodies.

“Patients who are athletes, I love them, because they will pick up subtle changes sometimes way before even the tests identify a disease,” Galiatsatos said.

Galiatsatos singled out three complications from Covid-19 that could be of particular concern to athletes.

First, coronavirus patients, like anyone with a serious respiratory infection, were at risk for long-term lung issues. He often saw patients “who three months ago had a bad virus and still can’t get their breathing back to normal.”

“Sometimes a bad virus creates an airway disease similar to an asthma,” he said. “They can ravage the lungs, where the lungs were rebuilt, but not well, and patients are stuck with an asthmalike reactive airway disease situation.”

Another complication that Galiatsatos considered particularly concerning to athletes, and one that experts were still trying to wrap their heads around, was the high incidence of blood clots that doctors were seeing in coronavirus patients. People diagnosed with blood clots, and prescribed blood thinners, are typically discouraged from participating in contact sports.

Finally, Galiatsatos said people unfortunate enough to be placed in intensive care could deal with “I.C.U. acquired weakness.” Patients placed on ventilators and confined to a bed often lost between 2 and 10 percent of their muscle mass per day, he said.

Read the rest.

 



Saturday 30 May

 

He did it!

23:35 - 30 May
Johnny Gregorek smashed the world record for the 'blue jean mile', clocking 4:06.25 to take five seconds off the previous mark.

It wasn't just the boredom of lockdown that drove the Pan-American Games silver medallist to take on the challenge. He mainly did it to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in memory of his late brother Patrick, who died last year.

A select group of family and friends were on hand to record Gregorek's record attempt (which, it should go without saying, is not recognised as an official World Athletics record). The recording of it can be seen below (his run starts 12 minutes into the recording).

After charging through the finish line, Gregorek thanked his supporters.

"That was awesome, thanks everyone for coming out and supporting and donating," said Gregorek, who wore a custom-made pair of ASICS spikes, bearing the name 'Paddy'. "I really appreciate it. I know it's a crazy time right now, but I hope I can bring a little bit of joy.

"I want to thank my wife Amy and my family. But most of all I want to thank my little brother Paddy for inspiring me every day. I love him and miss him. This is for him and for anyone else out there who's struggling with their mind at this time or any time. Know that you're loved. Be kind to yourself."

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Johnny “The Jet” Gregorek (@johnny.gregorek) on

 

Quigley queen of the spin

18:35 - 30 May
US steeplechaser Colleen Quigley came out on top in the Peloton All-Star Ride on ESPN.

The virtual cycling contest featured eight women from a range of sports, including multiple world and Olympic sprint medallist Allyson Felix. The other opponents were golfer Morgan Pressel, softball player Michele Smith, tennis player Victoria Azarenka, gymnast Kyla Ross, tennis player Monica Puig and basketball player Dawn Staley.

The eight women had to accrue as many Peloton points as possible within 20 minutes. Quigley's superior endurance shone through, as the Olympic finalist won by more than 100 points.

 

O'Sullivan acknowledges 'massive challenge' for current generation

14:15 - 30 May
Ireland's 1995 world 5000m champion Sonia O'Sullivan recently told BBC Radio Ulster how she "can't imagine" what the lockdown period is like for athletes attempting to plot a course for the rescheduled Olympics in Tokyo next year.

"I was somebody who definitely thrived on running races and being competitive," said the 1998 double world cross-country champion. "It's a massive challenge for athletes to go through this every day."

"They don't know when the races are going to start back up again. When you train so much, you run races so you can check your progress, adjust your training programme and refocus on different things but all that is gone now. I definitely raced a lot better than I ever trained. I put in the work, but for fast training and time trials, I was never very good because the competition and being in a race would raise me to a level where I could do things that I could never possibly do in training."

More

 

Blue jean mile record attempt

13:00 - 30 May
US middle-distance runner Johnny Gregorek will attempt to break the world record for the 'blue jean mile' later today.

In the absence of 'normal' racing opportunities, the Pan-American Games 1500m silver medallist has set himself the target of breaking 4:11.80 for a mile - while wearing a pair of jeans. He's doing it to raise funds for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

His run will be streamed live on his Instagram account at 6pm Eastern time (midnight CEST).

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

People are asking what kind of training I have done in jeans for the #BlueJeanMile. The answer is simple...all-out 100m sprints. Why? They build confidence and I don’t feel like doing anything else!⁣ ⁣ Thank you all so much for your support so far. I really can’t say it enough. This has been an incredible few weeks. The generosity and kindness you all have shown has raised over $10,000 for NAMI!! You have given support and raised awareness for so many who are suffering from mental illness and their caretakers. Take some time to show appreciation for yourself. You rock! ⁣ ⁣ Now I’ll hold up my end of the bargain!! Remember to tune in to my Instagram live on May 30 at 6 PM EST. It’s gonna be a blast ✈️ #MentalHealthMonth #MentalHealthMatters

A post shared by Johnny “The Jet” Gregorek (@johnny.gregorek) on

 



Friday 29 May

 

Early warning: Czech Back on Track series kicks off on Monday

17:40 - 29 May
That's Monday 1 June in the central Bohemian city of Kladno, and it will be livestreamed on Czech TV here.

 

Action kicks off at 5pm CET and will feature among others, Czech stars Barbora Spotakova, Tomas Stanek and Pavel Maslak, pictured above, saluting the series with Czech federation president Libor Varhanik. 

 

Storl organises shot put competition in Leipzig

16:00 - 29 May
Germany's two-time world shot put champion David Storl has organised a shot put competition set for next Friday 5 June that will bring together 10 throwers from clubs in Leipzig, Chemnitz and Halle.

"In these Corona times, we finally want to have that competitive feeling again, and motivation for the starting signal for the summer," said Storl, who took the 2011 and 2013 world titles.

In keeping with government guidelines on limits on public gatherings, the competitors will compete in two groups with no live spectators. But DPA reports that the event will be streamed on YouTube.

His Leipzig training partner Dennis Lewke, who was third at the German Indoor Championships in February, will also be competing.

 

British Athletics joins 'Train your way to Tokyo' challenge

15:10 - 29 May
British Athletics is joining forces with British Cycling and British Rowing and iconic BBC children’s television show Blue Peter to run, cycle and row the distance from Manchester to Tokyo in just 30 days.

Officially launched yesterday (28), the ‘Train Your Way to Tokyo’ challenge will see Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell team up with athletes from athletics, cycling and rowing to cover the 9948km distance from the Blue Peter studio in Salford to the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo.

Averaging at over 300km a day across the 30 days, Russell will try her hand at all three sports and get an insight into how Olympic and Paralympic athletes are currently training. She will combine her total with the athletes taking part, all completing the challenge from inside their own homes or outdoors within the current government guidance.

Russell will be mentored by five-time European champion Laura Muir for the running part of the challenge while British teammates Charlotte Purdue, Melissa Courtney-Bryant, Callum Hawkins, Oliver Dustin, Alex Botterill and Derek Rae among others are counting their kilometres covered in training over the 30-day period towards the overall total.

The group effort is running until 16 June with the final film being shown on Blue Peter on 18 June at 17:30 on CBBC and iPlayer.

“It is great to be supporting Lindsey as part of Blue Peter’s ‘Train Your Way to Tokyo’ challenge," Muir said. I loved the show when I was growing up and so jumped at the opportunity to take part.

"I’ll be contributing my normal training miles as part of the challenge and I am excited to be offering my support and tips and advice to Lindsey – I have no doubt she will do a fantastic job.”

From British Athletics

 

Want to race the world's top marathoners?

09:50 - 29 May
Still looking for a virtual race to run? Here's one that gives you a chance to run against or even with distance superstars Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, Joshua Cheptegei and Geoffrey Kamworor.

That high-powered quartet will take part in a virtual team relay marathon race event dubbed MA RA TH ON on 6 and 7 June which invites runners from around the world to join teams of four to complete a full marathon together, alone.

Runners can register as teams, or you can enter solo and be assigned to team with fellow runners from around the world. Kipchoge, Bekele, Cheptegei and Kamworor will randomly be added to 10 of the participating teams - which could mean yours.

“I can say that myself and my teammates are really looking forward to join the relay in this wonderful initiative," Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic marathon champion and world record holder in the event said.

"It has been an unusual time whereby all runners had to readjust their plans after having prepared well towards their own goals for this past spring season. We all look forward to a positive future and I believe that this a great first step in that direction."

Entry is free. Register here from 30 May.

 



Thursday 28 May

 

Boston Marathon cancelled

21:30 - 28 May
And another cancellation: the 124th edition of the Boston Marathon. It marks the first time the race has been cancelled since its inception in 1897.

Below is the statement from organisers, in full:

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has announced that the 124th Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event, following Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s cancellation of the marathon as a mass participation road running event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual Boston Marathon will be complemented by a series of virtual events throughout the second week of September.

“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the BAA. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon.”

All participants who were originally registered for the April 20, 2020 event will be offered a full refund of their entry fee associated with the race and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative to the 124th Boston Marathon, which can be run any time between September 7–14. The B.A.A. will also offer a series of virtual events and activities throughout September’s Marathon Week in an effort to bring the Boston Marathon experience to the constituencies that the organization serves here in Boston, across the United States, and around the world.

Virtual offerings for participants during that week will include exclusive panel discussions, champions interviews, and a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit that includes signature race elements such as a printable finish line, winner's breaktape, and more. Further details will be sent to all entrants in the near future.

Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2 mile distance within a six hour time period and provide proof of timing to the BAA. All athletes who complete the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant t-shirt, medal, and runner’s bib.

The BAA 5K scheduled for September 12 has also been canceled due to coronavirus. All participants who were originally registered for the April 18, 2020 event will be offered a refund. More information will be sent to participants.

The 2020 Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April 20, was postponed to September 14, 2020 by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BAA has been regularly communicating with city and state officials to discuss all efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus. For the 35th year, John Hancock will serve as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon.

For more, here's their FAQ.

 

Stawell Gift footrace cancelled for the first time since World War II

19:00 - 28 May
Another casualty of this year's Covid-19 pandemic: the Stawell Gift, Australia's oldest and richest handicap footrace.

Initially postponed in March, organisers were unable to find a suitable date to reschedule.

“The 2020 Stawell Gift will not be rescheduled in the 2020 calendar year,” the organising committee told Reuters in a statement.

“The event was postponed in March due to the impacts of Covid-19, and at an executive meeting this week it was unanimously decided to cancel the Gift for 2020.

Founded in 1878, the race has been held annually since except for four years during the Second World War.

The race was recognised for its historical significance with a World Athletics Heritage Plaque in May 2019.

 

Nairobi Continental Tour meeting named for Kipchoge Keino

16:30 - 28 May
The World Athletics Continental Tour meeting in Nairobi, originally slated for 2 May and now rescheduled for 26 September, has been named to honour Kenyan athletics legend Kipchoge Keino.

Keino, who raced to 1500m gold at the 1968 Olympics and took the 3000m steeplechase title in Munich four years later, is widely regarded as the father of Kenyan athletics. He later served as Chairman of the Kenyan Olympic Committee.

More from CitizenTV.

 

Rudisha undergoes ankle surgery

15:45 - 28 May
Two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha underwent surgery in Eldoret, Kenya, today after sustaining a fracture in his ankle last week. The injury is expected to sideline the world record-holder for 12-16 weeks.

According to a statement issued by his management company, The surgery was carried out by Kenyan team doctor and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Victor Bargoria. On Tuesday, 19 May, Rudisha twisted his left ankle at his rural home in Kilgoris, Narok County.

During a walk on the compound the 31-year-old stepped on uneven ground, and initially believed it was not a serious injury. He continued with exercises that wouldn’t cause further harm to his ankle but after a lack of improvement over the weekend, he underwent an examination and was diagnosed with an ankle fracture at St. Luke’s hospital in Eldoret.

According to Bargoria, Rudisha suffered a left ankle fracture (Supination External Rotation) which was fixated with a 1/3rd tubular plate and 3.5mm screws.

 

The steeplechase improvised home workout

12:45 - 28 May
That's the apropos headline for a BBC video featuring reigning world and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto's backyard workouts, complete with a water jump in his backyard pool and couch cushions as hurdles.

Watch.

 

Chopra, Das resume outdoor training in Patiala

09:45 - 28 May
FirstPost.com reported that Indian elite athletes including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and world U20 400m champion Hima Das have resumed training outdoors at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Patiala on Wednesday.

In a statement, the SAI said:

"In keeping with the government guidelines, all necessary safety measures of hygiene and social distancing are being maintained by athletes on the field of play.

"Equipment are being self-sanitised by athletes after use and no two athletes are allowed to use the same equipment during the sports activity."

Another National Centre of Excellence training facility in Bengaluru was also opened for use by elite athletes.

More.

 



Wednesday 27 May

 

Beesley's new training partner

14:50 - 27 May
European bronze medallist Meghan Beesley has gained a new training partner in lockdown.

The British 400m hurdler has been doing sessions with her pet dog, which she describes as a "fluffy white ball".

"She's been getting into my training programmes with me," Beesley told Athletics Weekly. "I've never seen her so happy. And it's been motivating to have someone there at the end of each rep."

 

Bartoletta's virtual garage sale

13:20 - 27 May
Many people have used their time in lockdown to have a good clear-out. Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta has done exactly that and is selling some of her kit and other memorabilia through her website.

The collection of items includes two Diamond trophies from her 2014 and 2015 Diamond League victories (one of the trophies has already sold). Many items have already sold, but there are still various pieces of kit and mantra bands available.

"I'm getting a lot of messages asking 'why' I'm selling all of my stuff," she posted on Twitter. "A few things: 1) it’s not even close to ALL my stuff 2) as I get older my attachment to things changes. I lived it, have the experience, and the medals. I find it really cool that I’ve found a way to share memorabilia from my special moments with people who also cherish my special moments. I don’t want to be a collector of my own 'stuff'. I don’t want to live in a shrine dedicated to me. Lastly, I’m looking forward. I want to defend my Olympic title; I know the financial investment required. $$ is uncertain for (not just) me but athletes all over. I want to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to preparing myself to do what it takes to achieve this."

Items are selling fast, so act quickly!

And on the subject of Bartoletta, check out this recent interview with her on the BBC website.

 



Tuesday 26 May

 

Five unexpected ways runners are getting competitive

12:15 - 26 May
The coronavirus pandemic has shown that athletes are nothing if not creative – especially when it comes to trying to find a new competitive outlet.

There have already been two pole vault editions of the Ultimate Garden Clash (and there may be more of those to come…) and there has also been a boom in online challenges and virtual racing.

Some elite US distance runners have found other ways to get their competitive juices flowing, and this article by Canadian Running magazine highlights five of the best.

 

Akinosun making the most of extra time

12:00 - 26 May
Morolake Akinosun knows what it’s like to take a break. Not just from competition, but from the sport as a whole.

Having won Olympic 4x100m gold in 2016 and world 4x100m gold in 2017, Akinosun picked up an achilles injury in 2018 and had to have surgery. Determined not to feel down about her situation, she treated the break as a kind of “rehab for life”.

Morolake Akinosun

“I didn’t want to abandon my life,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “I did a lot of walking around. I just had fun. I read books. I ate food. I remember sitting outside this local eatery in Rome with four friends. My best friend asked me, ‘Would you rather have not torn your achilles?’ It was just so hard for me to answer. Who would say, ‘Yeah, I wish I tore my achilles?’ But if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting there with my friends.”

Akinosun, the 2017 US indoor 60m champion, returned to action last year and formed part of the USA’s bronze medal-winning 4x100m quartet at the World Championships in Doha. And while her early season marks in 2020 were promising, she’s relieved that she now has a bit more time to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We’ve done most of our work on a huge grass field. It’s not terrible, although it is hard to run in grass. When coach gets out her wheel, measures 200 meters straight and puts down cones, you’re like, ‘This looks so much further when you’re going straight’.

“More and more, I feel like myself on the track. I’m thinking the Olympics getting postponed was a little bit of a blessing for me.”

Full article

 



Monday 25 May

 

Weisshaidinger throws 68.63m in Schwechat-Rannersdorf

16:00 - 25 May
Austria's Lukas Weisshaidinger returned to action at his home base in Schwechat-Rannersdorf on Monday (25), winning a low-key discus competition with a 68.63m effort, the second best throw of the 28-year-old's career.

In order to maximise the rare competitive opportunity, two competitions were held, both in line with Austria's strict guidelines for public events which currently allow a maximum of 10 people to gather for sporting events. Today those included three athletes, three coaches, two officials and a photographer.

Despite battling windy and rainy conditions, Weisshaidinger won both handily.

He opened the day with a foul in the first, reached 63.25m in the second round before his winning 68.63m in the third, 35 centimetres shy of the national record he threw in 2018. Spinning into his rhythm, he followed up with 66.31m and 65.82m efforts.

He was even more consistent in the second competition, capped with a 68.19m effort in the third round and twice more throwing beyond 67 metres.

He saved his best for last, a throw that landed at 69.95m, but was later ruled a foul.

"The kick-off was great today, sensational," said Weisshaidinger, whose top mark of the day landed him in the No.2 spot on the 2020 world list, behind Jamaican Fedrick Dacres who threw 69.67m on 8 February in Kingston.

The rest of the report.

 

Athletics Australia releases 'Return to athletics guidelines'

10:30 - 25 May
Athletics Australia has today released its 'Return to athletics guidelines' to be used by clubs and associations around the country.

The guidelines set out in conjunction with the AIS Framework for Rebooting Australian Sport in a COVID-19 Environment have been formulated with the help of Athletics Australia’s member associations and with Sport Australia.

“In these very tough times it has been fantastic to see the resilience and the ingenuity of the athletics community," said Athletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher.

“I can’t wait to see everyone out there competing again and with the release of these guidelines we are a step closer."

The guidelines aim to provide the Athletics community with clarity about how best to create a safe training environment depending on the differing levels of restrictions imposed by state and federal governments.

At this time, the guidelines do not provide for a resumption of athletics competitions and events. Decision-making around the resumption of state and club competitions rests with the state sporting organisations.

Athletics Australia will continue to work with its state Member Associations, government bodies and health officials to develop similar national baseline standards for event and competition operations.

The principles of the guidelines are grouped into four categories:

- Participants - athletes
- Parents & Carers
- Coaches & Run leaders
- High Performance

The resources are available on the COVID-19 Hub on the Athletics Australia website.

 

 

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 | 20-24 May