News07 Jun 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 1-7 June


US sprint hurdler Aries Merritt (© 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 | 20-24 May | 25-31 May

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak

Sunday 7 June


Mayer triumphs in Ultimate Garden Clash - Combined Events

20:00 - 7 June
The Ultimate Garden Clash III is in the books.

Kevin Mayer produced a dominant victory in the Ultimate Garden Clash - Combined Events edition on Sunday (7), a unique triathlon competition that brought together three of the world's best decathletes competing in three countries on two continents.

Competing in Montpelier, France, Mayer took on world champion Niklas Kaul of Germany and world silver medallist Maicel Uibo of Estonia, who were competing from their training bases in Mainz, Germany, and Clermont, Florida, respectively.

The grueling contest began with a pole vault competition where the trio set out to clear 4.00m as many times as possible during a 10-minute period. Action then continued in the shot put ring where the challenge was to produce as many 12-metre throws as possible, again over the span of 10 minutes. It then concluded with a shuttle run competition in which two cones were placed 20 metres apart, with the athletes collecting points for each completed back-and-forth lap over the course of five minutes.

In the pole vault, Mayer nailed a 17th clearance just as time wound down, two better than Uibo. Kaul ended the round third with 14. He all but sealed the victory in the shot put, producing 28 throws to Kaul's 22. Further back, Uibo tallied 20.

Mayer's momentum continued over the five-minute final event. The trio ran fairly even for the first four minutes until Kaul took a narrow lead. He held it to win the round with 27 circuits, one better than Mayer and Uibo. Mayer collected 71 points to Kaul's 63. Uibo was another two back.

"In the shot put I think I made the difference because my PB is 17 (metres) so it was easy for me to throw 13 every time and I got in a rhythm that felt good," Mayer said. "I was really really tired at the end but it was a good effort for me."

Read the full report.


Wanda Diamond League Call Room - Eugene Edition airs tonight

19:00 - 7 June
At 20:00 GMT, with world 100m champion Christian Coleman, 400m hurdles star Rai Benjamin and US 1500m record holder Shelby Houlihan. 

A little more here


As protests continue, Lyles considers ways in which to make a difference

12:15 - 7 June
AP reporter Eddie Pells spoke with Noah Lyles about the protests that have enveloped most corners of the US after the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer. Like many other African-American athletes, the world 200m champion is keenly watching the protests unfold and trying to figure out how to best use his voice.

Had the coronavirus pandemic not stopped much of the planet in its tracks, Lyles would have been preparing for the US Olympic Trials, which were set to begin later this week. That of course, has all been turned on its head.

Instead, Lyles is shuttling between home and training in Florida, keeping a wary eye on the news, trying to figure out what to say and when to say it — in short, how to make a difference.

“I’ve definitely pondered it quite a few times, for many years, in fact,” Lyles says. “You feel like there’s change, but not enough change, and then you’re thinking, ‘Well, shoot, it’s almost getting to be my turn, where I have to make a decision.’”

The process, which included a few to-the-point tweets earlier this week encouraging people to vote, is shedding light on a more serious side of the 22-year-old sprint star than has been seen so far.

And, Pells reports:

He also faced the same issues as any African American boy — learning the harsh realities of what it means to be a black male in the U.S. The message Lyles’ mom, Keisha Caine Bishop, sent continually: Dress nice, no baggy pants. Don’t do anything that makes people perceive you as a threat.

“But the sad part is that no matter how nonthreatening you appear, you can still be a victim,” Bishop said. “You’re just trying to think of anything to get your kids home safely.”

Of the lifetime of slights and abuse that African Americans absorb, Lyles said: “I think a lot of people think it happens as a one-moment situation, which it doesn’t. It’s more a buildup.”

Addressing how athletes are reacting, Lyles said:

“Some people are standing up and willing to lose their contracts and go into poverty to say this isn’t right,” Lyles said. “And some people are saying `We’re ready to protest inside the lines. But whoever we’re competing for, we need to know how much they’re backing us, because we need to know the repercussions we’re going to take to go through this.’”


Count Lyles among those willing to step up. His message right now: educate yourself on the issues, get behind people and organizations who share your values, and vote.

“Go out and create campaigns for people who support our ideas and the belief that everyone can be equal,” Lyles said, “and who support the idea that we might not have to go outside and die today.”



Eight treadmill world bests set at Chaski Challenge

10:30 - 7 June
It was quite a weekend for treadmill runners this weekend, with eight world bests tumbling at the Chaski Challenge on Saturday.

For the half marathon, John Raneri's simple strategy - setting the treadmill to its top speed of 4:48 per mile - paid off, as he clocked 1:03:08 to clip 29 seconds from the previous best set by Tyler Andrews in 2015.

In the women's event, Sara Hall crushed her target of 1:20:43, clocking 1:09:03. But that came about two hours after Renee Metivier broke it as well, splitting 1:19:29 en route to world bests of 2:40:55 in the marathon and 3:11:43 over 50km.

Meanwhile, Andrews, who came up with the challenge, traded his half marathon mark for two others, first in the marathon, where he clocked 2:17:56 to take down the previous world best of 2:20:45, and again exactly 25 minutes later when stopping to clock at 2:42:56 to break the 50km mark as well.

But that's not all.

Mario Mendoza forged on to clock 6:39:25 over 100km and, ploughing even further, Regina Lopez capped the day with an 8:41:37 performance over 50 miles.


Saturday 6 June


🚨 Action klaxon! 🚨

21:55 - 6 June
Quite a bit of athletics action took place across Europe this weekend. Relatively speaking, of course.

The meetings were comprised mainly of field events with small fields and depleted crowds. Nevertheless, for the athletes who took part and the fans who spectated, it was a small step closer back to the norm.

Some highlights:
A Finnish hammer record of 71.93m for Krista Tervo
A Finnish U20 hammer record of 67.99m for Silja Kosonen
World indoor champion Ivana Spanovic long jumped 6.80m
World bronze medallist Bence Halasz threw a world-leading 78.86m

All this and a fair bit more can be found in this summary of action.

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71.92 SE #moukari #moukarinheitto #rhtfinland #yleisurheilu #trackandfield #hammerthrow

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Talk about timing...

18:55 - 6 June
For most athletes, the extra time they have gained to prepare for the Olympic Games has come as a blessing in disguise.

But for former world half marathon record-holder Florence Kiplagat, the timing has been somewhat disappointing as she has finally overcome the injuries that have blighted her career in recent years.

The Kenyan won the 2009 world cross country and 2010 world half marathon titles before going on to win the Berlin Marathon twice (2011 and 2013) and the Chicago Marathon twice (2015 and 2016). Between her big city marathon victories, she set two world records for the half marathon.

Florence Kiplagat

A knee injury hampered her 2017 and 2018 campaigns, but she showed decent form at the start of 2019 with a 2:21:50 clocking at the Tokyo Marathon. But that remains her most recent road race.

With the persistent knee injury finally behind her, Kiplagat would have loved to have returned to top-level racing in 2020, but she’s hopeful that it won’t be too long before she can don her racing flats.

“I am optimistic the coronavirus pandemic will soon come to end and the sports world will open up once again,” she told The Star. “Like any other athlete, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected my training programme. The fact that I can’t train with fellow athletes means that I can’t gauge my strength ahead of the season. Occasionally, I train with my pacesetters Ezekiel Kipchirchir and Timothy Kuto but we have to observe social distancing even in training.”



The Macarena-thon

11:25 - 6 June
If Niklas Kaul, Kevin Mayer and Maicel Uibo are looking for a warm-up routine ahead of tomorrow's Ultimate Garden Clash, British distance runner Eilish McColgan has just the thing:


Friday 5 June


Sport, climate change and acknowledging vulnerability

14:35 - 5 June
That's the title of a recent story in The Sustainability Report that examines the impacts that extreme weather is having and likely will continue to have on sport and the sports industry. The situation is especially alarming given the current Covid-19 context.

Vulnerable. If you could choose one word to describe how the world is currently feeling, ‘vulnerable’ would be a strong contender.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made people feel vulnerable about their health and employment status. Others, who oppose lockdown, feel a certain vulnerability regarding their freedom. And then there are businesses and whole sectors that are losing unimaginable amounts of money as the world around them gets to grips with the crisis.

Sport is among those industries and its vulnerability to global issues of this type has been laid bare.

Sporting events thought to be untouchable, like the Olympic Games, UEFA European Championships, and top level soccer, American football, basketball and baseball, have been wiped off the calendar as quickly as you can flick off a light switch, with no certainty about when they will return.

Financially, it has been a disaster. An ESPN study discovered that at least $12bn will be wiped from sport’s collective balance sheet, while sports marketing company Two Circles has estimated that sport sponsorship could plummet by more than $17bn year-on-year (37%).

But what if Covid-19 is just the tip of the iceberg? While it currently dominates societal discourse, many experts remain steadfast in their view that climate change will cause far more disruption and claim many more lives than the virus.

The question for sport is clear: if climate change progresses at the rate that’s expected, will competitions and leagues be impacted in a similar way to the pandemic? And if so, what can sports organisations do to mitigate that risk so a similar shutdown needn’t occur.

Invest a few minutes to read the rest.


Live stream today: Watch Storl's shot put competition from 15:45 CEST

12:15 - 5 June
Today's shot put competition organised by Germany's two-time world shot put champion David Storl gets underway at 15:45 CEST.

The event will bring together 10 throwers from clubs in Leipzig, Chemnitz and Halle. Storl's training partner Dennis Lewke, who was third at the German Indoor Championships in February, will also be competing.

Watch it here:


It's World Environment Day

11:30 - 5 June
It's World Environment Day, the United Nations’ most renowned annual day to promote and encourage worldwide environmental action and awareness.

This year, the theme is biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life, in which they exist. And as we all know, sport in general and ours in particular has not been immune.

This year, World Environment Day is being hosted by Colombia - to bring attention to that, we published an interview today with 2018 World Athlete of the Year Caterine Ibarguen in which the country's most famous female athlete discusses some of the ways she, her family and friends work to preserve the environment in her community.

We'll be posting other examples here throughout the day. In the meantime, the UN Environment Programme has an extensive list of events - presentations from speakers, expert panels, virtual tours, film screenings and music event - that will be taking place today. Take a look.


Thursday 4 June


It's on! World’s top three decathletes to square off in Ultimate Garden Clash - Combined Events Edition

15:40 - 4 June
The Ultimate Garden Clash series continues on Sunday 7 June with a trans-continental meeting of combined events titans.

Decathlon world record-holder Kevin Mayer, world champion Niklas Kaul and world silver medallist Maicel Uibo will square off from their training bases in Montpellier, France, Mainz, Germany, and Clermont, Florida, in a unique virtual triathlon that combines strength, speed and stamina to mirror a gruelling combined events competition.

The competition will begin with the pole vault where the athletes will attempt to clear 4.00m as many times as possible during a 10-minute period. They'll then move on to the shot put where the challenge is to send the 7.26kg iron ball beyond a 12-metre line as often as possible, again during a 10-minute period. The triathlon concludes with a shuttle run competition in which two cones are placed 20 metres apart, with the athletes collecting points for each completed back-and-forth shuttle over the course of five minutes. The points scored in each event will be tallied to crown the overall winner.

The hour-long event gets underway at 5pm CEST (weather permitting) and will be broadcast live on the World Athletics YouTube channelTwitter feed and Facebook page.



Athletics Canada releases Back on Track protocols and guidelines

14:00 - 4 June
Canada's national governing body released its Back on Track protocols and guidelines to assist in developing a responsible return to programming in the country's provinces and territories.

Developed by the Back on Track Task Force, the guidelines, as well as those from municipal, provincial and public health agencies, aim to help athletes and their families make informed decisions as to safe return to training.

In a statement, Athletics Canada said that the risk assessment and mitigation tools developed by the Return to Sport Task Force inspired much of the Back on Track guidelines, thus it strongly encourages clubs and training groups to complete the Club Risk Assessment and Club Mitigation Checklist Tool prior to any return to training.



Athletics action returns to Chorzow on 20 June

10:30 - 4 June
Continuing the gradual pan-European out-of-lockdown return to competition, Chorzow's Silesian Stadium will help kick off Poland's summer athletics season with a meeting on 20 June.

Throwers Konrad Bukowiecki and Wojciech Nowicki are expected to compete in the shot put and hammer throw, respectively, while the action on the track will feature national 400m standouts Rafal Omelko, Lukasz Krawczuk and Justina Swiety-Ersetic, the European champion over the distance, who will all compete over 300m.

"This season is different for all obvious reasons," Swiety-Ersetic said. "To improve our form we need competitions which have been lacking so far. Usually in June I already have a few meetings behind me, which is why I am glad that I will finally be able to compete in my favorite stadium."

Ten events will be on the programme, all held in accordance with guidelines on public gatherings issued by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Sport and the Polish Athletics Association.

Later this year, the stadium will also host the Kusocinski Memorial and the Skolimowska Memorial, respectively World Athletics Continental Tour silver and gold meetings. The stadium will also host the World Athletics Relays on 1-2 May, 2021.


Wednesday 3 June


Epidemic of violence far worse than Covid-19, says Hall

18:45 - 3 June
Marielle Hall, like many people around the world, has learned to adapt her way of living during the coronvavirus pandemic.

But as challenging as it can be to comprehend this ‘new normal’, the US distance runner says it pales in comparison when trying to understand the racially-driven violence inflicted on black people in the USA.

Marielle Hall

“It feels like we’ve all become experts on crisis,” said the US distance runner, who finished eighth in the 10,00m at last year’s World Championships. “Adjusting to our new reality, we are stretching our imaginations and getting creative with how we work, eat, live, and communicate during the age of the coronavirus.

“But how does one begin to understand an epidemic of violence aimed at victims like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Sean Reed? Before them, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice? And the story that has hit closest to home, Ahmaud Arbery? When police found his body, he was lying in the middle of the street, which was exactly where he was confronted, shot, and killed three months ago by Gregory and Travis McMichael for jogging.

“Fighting racial injustice in America is an endurance sport. It is going to take time, and sustained focus, to galvanize our communities. Being tired is not enough. The race can be won, but it requires dutiful action from all of us.”

Full article


Treadmill records set to be challenged

14:50 - 3 June
Five different treadmill world records will be under threat this weekend as part of the Chaski Challenge.

Brainchild of ultra-runner Tyler Andrews, the event was created as an opportunity to allow himself and others to demonstrate their fitness.

Leading US distance runner Sara Hall will be among the athletes targeting a treadmill record.

"It's a tough time for all sports, but especially with ours including the masses, people need things to stay motivated or to get a benchmark of fitness," Hall told "I wanted to support that and it will be nice to get a benchmark of fitness for myself in the process and hopefully provide some entertainment to people."

The records being targeted this weekend are:

Women's half marathon: 1:20:43 - Jenna Wrieden (USA) 2014
Men's half marathon: 1:03:37 - Tyler Andrews (USA) 2015
Men's marathon: 2:20:45 - Paul Zwama (NED) 2018
Men's 50km: 2:56:35 - Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 2020
Men's 50 miles: 4:57:45 - Jacob Puzey (USA) 2016



Guttormsen warming up for Oslo's Impossible Games

12:20 - 3 June
Norwegian record-holder Sondre Guttormsen is showing good form ahead of next week's Impossible Games.

Competing one day after turning 21, Guttormsen vaulted 5.65m off a 14-step approach in the Norwegian town of Ski.

The European finalist, who has a PB of 5.80m, will face the likes of world record-holder Mondo Duplantis and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie in Oslo on 11 June.

View this post on Instagram

Comeback!🙏🏼 After 6 months out with injury I’m finally back competing. Last night at “Team Guttormsen Invitational” I jumped 5.65m for a 14 step PR and highest ever season opener (swipe for video). Been a long and emotional road with countless MRI’s, doctor visits and rehab sessions, but I’m so thankful for everyone who’s helped me get here, and can’t wait for the future ahead. Also, huge thanks to everyone who came out to support! Nothing better than competing on your home track with family and friends in the crowd.❤️ • • • • Photo: @jacobbolinlund #polevault #friidrett #athletics #trackandfield #hometown #ski #norway #roadtotokyo

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Tuesday 2 June


Westerlund showing symptoms but remaining calm

17:20 - 2 June
Having worked as a nurse in recent months, Swedish sprint hurdler Elin Westerlund is now showing symptoms of the coronavirus. But the 30-year-old says she isn't surprised and wants to make a swift recovery so that she can continue to help in the fight against the virus.

"I was sure it was (corona), so it didn't come as a shock to me," said Westerlund, who represented Sweden at the 2018 World Indoor Championships. "I have a dry cough and a slight fever. I hope it stays this way and doesn't get that serious or long-lasting."

View this post on Instagram

Så hoppade jag också på covidtåget. Änsålänge har jag klarat mig med lite torrhosta och lätt feber men hemma och förberedd på en tids isolering! #covid19

A post shared by Elin Westerlund (@_elinwest_) on

Westerlund, who is now self-isolating, hadn't quite completed her nursing studies when the coronavirus outbreak started, but New Karolinska Hospital needed anyone with nursing skills.

"I now feel a great deal of empathy with others," she said, "and how unfair this disease is."



After training alongside wildlife, Asher-Smith now understands distance runners

16:20 - 2 June
During the weeks in which she was unable to train on a track, world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith maintained her fitness by doing longer runs than usual and in new surroundings.

Some of those routes included running through fields of deer. And that, she told the Guardian, has given her a new understanding and appreciation of distance running.

“The sprinters always joke that we don’t understand how the longer‑distance people go on those long runs,” she said. “When the scenery is so pretty I was starting to understand it. Running in a park among deer is definitely not what I would normally be doing. My normal training programme consists of a lot of gym, a lot of short, sharp and powerful things. It was strange but it was a peaceful change.”

Despite her long runs, the 24-year-old insists she has no plans to move up in distance and will be sticking to the 100m and 200m for the foreseeable as she trains for the upcoming Olympic Games. And the news of the postponement came as a welcome relief.

“I think it had become unfeasible in the situation we were in at the time,” she says. “I remember thinking: ‘How am I meant to do Olympic standard training and keep up the shape I need and want to be in for the Olympics from training in my flat? Before that, I went through a period like a lot of athletes did of disbelief, thinking: ‘No, don’t be silly. It won’t be cancelled.’ Then, as everything got worse, I thought: ‘I don’t know how tenable this is.’ Then gradually I was accepting: ‘Yeah, this is pretty unlikely’.”


View this post on Instagram

hola from me + my new training partners 🦌

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USATF releases return to training and hosting events guidelines

13:00 - 2 June
USA Track and Field has released return to training and event hosting guidance related to the coronavirus.

USATF's Working Group of medical, scientific, and industry experts created the guidance based on regular updates from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and other US professional sports leagues.

Set in five phases, both the return to practice and event hosting guidance range from shelter-in-place guidelines to recommendations for when a vaccine or cure is found for COVID-19. In all phases, USATF stresses personal hygiene and social distancing.


Monday 1 June


Spotakova wins javelin showdown in Kladno

19:45 - 1 June
Victories by javelin aces Barbora Spotakova and Jakub Vadlejch highlighted the opening meeting of the Czech Athletics Federation's 'Back on the Track' series which kicked off in the central Bohemian city of Kladno on Monday (1).

Spotakova, who has held the world record in the event for nearly a dozen years, prevailed in the afternoon's most fiercely contested head-to-head. The two-time Olympic and three-time world champion opened with a modest 57.31m effort, but took command of the competition with a 63.69m throw in the second, her best toss since May of last year.

Nikola Ogrodnikova, the European silver medallist, fouled on her first two attempts but fought back with a 62.92m effort in round three. Neither improved over the next three rounds, however, leaving Spotakova with the win.

In the men's competition, Vadlejch produced just one measurable throw, an 84.31m toss in the first round, good enough for the victory. Given that he only threw farther on three occasions last year, his 2020 debut bodes well.

Petr Frydrych, one of the rare few who wasn't making his 2020 debut - he threw 79.27m in Pilzen eight days ago - was second with 78.18m.

Read the rest of our report.


Czech 'Back on the track' series underway

13:50 - 1 June
Today marks the first day of the athletics season in the Czech Republic, with more than 100 competitions for youth athletes taking place throughout the country. The aim of today's initiative is for all athletes to be together, at least symbolically, at the start of this year's competitive season.

The day will culminate with the first stop of a six-meeting 'Back on the Track' series which kicks off later today in the central Bohemian city of Kladno. That action, which will include Czech stars Barbora Spotakova, Tomas Stanek and Pavel Maslak, begins at 5pm local (CET) and will be live streamed on Czech TV here.


Schippers: When competition resumes, 'I will be extra careful'

10:15 - 1 June
In this interview with The New Indian Express, two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers discussed her current motivations and how she'll approach competition when action resumes later this summer.

On competing post-lockdown:

Without a vaccine, it may not be a 100% foolproof... I'm always very careful. I will be extra careful if there are more people around. When the Diamond League is ready, everything will be done and organised with utmost care. Nobody wants to take the risk of new outbreaks and if careers can be ruined by spreading the virus... I expect there will be extra attention and care. If that is the case and preparations are done carefully, I would be okay to race again.

And, on her long-term and short term motivations:

There is still a goal in 2021 with the Olympics, but I believe you can give that little extra if you know that you have to be at your best in the short term. Now there is less urgency and also racing without the public would be a thing. I need to hear the crowd, to feel the atmosphere and some extra pressure to perform at my best. But I wonder if that's going to happen in the short term.

Read the rest.


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 | 25-31 May