Middle-distance runner Angie Petty of New Zealand training on a treadmill in her garage (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 18-22 April


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

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak



Wednesday 22 April 

 

Johnson-Thompson's home heptathlon

21:45 - 22 April
In her first combined events, erm, 'competition' of the year, world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson faced two formidable opponents.

 

Karalis and Stefanidi take on the #ShotPutChallenge

16:55 - 22 April
Greek pole vault duo Emmanaouil Karalis and Katerina Stefanidi have tackled the #ShotPutChallenge on tiktok - to varying degrees of success.

Karalis, the fifth-place finisher at the 2018 World Indoor Championships, landed his toilet roll in his washing basket but then it bounced out again.

@flymanolofly

OMG…btw that sound effect though lol ##FlyManoloFly

♬ original sound - flymanolofly

Olympic champion Stefanidi, meanwhile, landed hers first time.

@katerinastefanidi1

Try it out!! ##ShotPutChallenge ##toiletpaper ##challenge ##shotput ##quarantine ##sport @worldathletics

♬ original sound - katerinastefanidi1

 

Life's a beach

14:15 - 22 April
In the absence of a training facility, Dutch pole vaulter Neal Ott has found a way of getting in some practice – at his local beach.

 
 
 
 
 
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Olympic postponement is fair for everyone, says Goule

13:30 - 22 April
Jamaican 800m record-holder Natoya Goule missed out on making the Olympic semi-finals by just half a second in 2016. Last year she was just 1.27 seconds shy of a medal at the World Championships.

The Pan-American champion had been hoping to continue her ascent towards a global medal at the Olympic Games this year, but her goals - just like every other elite athletes - have now been put on hold.

And, like many others, she knows it is the right thing to do.

Natoya Goule

“I do understand because it’s fair for everyone,” Goule said in a recent interview with The State. “Am I disappointed? Yes, but it’s fair for everyone. I understand for the safety.

“My time is waaaay better, like three seconds faster than what I was (in 2016). My chances would’ve been better. But I do not let those things get to me. I live by faith. If it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Full story

 



Tuesday 21 April 

 

App launched for virtual meetings

16:30 - 21 April

Sports may have gone mostly dark for the past month, but virtual competition is going to fill some of the void for track and field athletes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to a re-tooled AthleticAPP, there is a new way to register and enter events, verify performances and even create a set of meet results – and rankings.

Athletic APP

"We went with the approach that we know everyone is staying home but individually wanting to stay active and doing the sport they love doing together as a community," said Athletic chief operating officer Dan Bowdoin. "We wanted a way to compete individually and interact socially."

More information can be found on the Athletic.net website

 

Return to normality for Austria's top athletes

12:30 - 21 April
Leading Austrian athletes Verena Preiner, Ivona Dadic and Lukas Weißhaidinger are happy to have resumed ‘normal’ training.

Since the beginning of this week, about 600 professional sportspeople in Austria have been allowed to use their regular training facilities – including the seven National Olympic Training Centres.

Austrian athletes

“Of course, it’s great to be back in normal training at the Olympic Training Centre in Linz,” said Preiner, the world heptathlon bronze medallist. “We practised 100m hurdles and shot put. It was the first time after five weeks of home training that I used spikes on a running track again. It felt great.

“We still try to be as cautious as possible,” added Preiner, who will be focusing on shot put, hurdles and long jump this week, along with some power and strength sessions. “My coach Wolfi Adler was wearing a face mask, even during outdoor training.”

Discus thrower Weißhaidinger, also a world bronze medallist, has been training at the Südstadt centre near Vienna. “It’s a good feeling to be able to resume my regular training schedule,” he said. “At the moment I’m still lacking the fine tuning when I’m throwing. Good throws are not happening automatically, there’s still a big element of luck. In the next few days we’ll work on as many throws as possible so I can develop that delicate feeling again.

“The quality of training is obviously much higher when your coach is standing right next to you and can give you instructions,” he added. “Of course, it is still important to behave responsibly at this time. We stick to the rules and take all the necessary precautions.”

Meanwhile, world indoor pentathlon silver medallist Ivona Dadic will head to her local stadium today (Tuesday). “I’m over the moon to be able to start with my normal training routine again,” she said. “It seems like an eternity since I was last in the stadium.”

Olaf Brockmann for World Athletics

 

Vallortigara's lockdown workout

12:10 - 21 April
High jumpers can lift their bodies over some incredible heights, but they can also get in a good workout from the comfort of a small room.

Here's how Italy's Elena Vallortigara has been training in recent weeks:

 



Monday 20 April 

 

More than 31,000 runners take part in 'Denmark is running' virtual event on Sunday

15:40 - 20 April
Yesterday's Danmark Løber, or 'Denmark is running', event brought together - at a socially safe distance, of course - more than 31,000 runners to show that the country is standing together by running (or walking) alone.

Organised by seven of the biggest race organisers in Denmark - Sparta Athletics & Running, Aarhus Exercise, Aalborg Athletics & Exercise, OGF Odense, HCA Marathon, Southern Jutland, Sport Event Syd and the Lillebælt Half Marathon - 'Denmark is running' attracted 31,486 participants who took part in five events, either running or walking alone or in very small groups: a 5km run (12,883), 5km walk (5,183), 10km run (7,959) 10km walk (2,456) and a 21.1km run (3,002).

Interest was so high that registration more than doubled from 4pm Saturday to start time at 11am Sunday.

Events were also live streamed on the group's Facebook page.

 

Boston Marathon organisers remembering front line workers on 'race day'

14:30 - 20 April
The 124th edition of the Boston Marathon won't be run today, postponed (for now) until 14 September, due to the battle to contain and defeat the New Coronavirus.

But organisers aren't forgetting those who are today on the front lines working to beat back the virus.

Organisers also invited runners, past and future, to share pictures of their own support teams.

And finally, organisers also issued a call to anyone who thought about running along the course today, asking them to please stay home.

 

Haddadi: 'You need to be a good human being. That is what counts in the end'

13:00 - 20 April

In early March, Asian discus champion Ehsan Hadadi tested positive for Covid19. So did his father. Fortunately, both the 1.94m tall, 135kg gentle giant and his father are on their way to recovery. But it's an experience that Hadadi, a six-time continental champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist will never forget.

“I have never felt so weak before. It was hurting all over," he said. It was also humbling.

“When I was in bed, I thought a lot about life. I realised how feeble it is. You could be healthy one day and die the next day. Running after achievements isn’t the only purpose of life. You need to be a good human being. That is what counts in the end.”

More in The Indian Express.

 

Outeiriño, a former IAAF Director of Corporate Services, dies from coronavirus

11:00 - 20 April
World Athletics is saddened by the news that Roberto Outeiriño, a former Director of Corporate Services at the IAAF, died on Sunday from complications of the coronavirus. He was 85.


(photo FISU.net)

Outeiriño held the position at the IAAF, now World Athletics, from 1993 to 2004. But a large part of his career was linked to university sports, particularly at the global level. He was an Emeritus honorary member of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) since 2009, capping a relationship that began four decades earlier when he began to serve on the organisation's International Technical Committee (CTI) for basketball from 1969 to 1987. He then took on a role as an advisor with the organisation before becoming FISU treasurer, a position he held from 1991 to 2007.

In January 2002, when working in his role with the IAAF, Outeiriño was awarded the Real Orden del Merito Deportivo, or Royal Order of Sporting Merit, from the Spanish government for his lifelong dedication and service to sports, university sports and athletics.

“It is indeed a very big loss for the whole FISU Family,” said FISU President Oleg Matytsin in a statement posted on FISU.net. “I had known him for many years and am personally grieving at this terrible news.”

“Roberto was a tall figure in university sports and the sports world in general,” FISU Secretary General-CEO Eric Saintrond, added.

 



Sunday 19 April 

 

Don't try this at home

17:00 - 19 April
One of the upsides to the reduction in traffic during the pandemic is that the roads are quiet enough to be used as a training ground.

Belgian decathlete Thomas van der Plaetsen took to his local streets for a high jump session.

"This reminded me of when I was a kid and we would play on the street," said the 2016 European champion. "We'd use anything we could find to make a running race, a jump-off or a competition. I'm glad that, 20 years later, I haven't lost that way of thinking!"

 

Martinot-Lagarde the shape-shifter

15:00 - 19 April
How many of these athletes do you recognise?

 

Merchants of speed

13:00 - 19 April
Ordinarily, it would be quite difficult to coordinate an in-person meeting between some of the best sprint coaches in the USA as they’re based in different parts of the country.

But these are not ordinary times. And, thanks to modern technology, the likes of Caryl Smith-Gilbert, Mike Holloway, Boogie Johnson, Amy Deem and Curtis Taylor will link up in an online roundtable discussion, hosted by Ato Boldon, on 30 April.

More information can be found on the 1080motion website.

 

Home from home

12:15 - 19 April
Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi entered 2020 with designs on defending her title in Tokyo. That ambition has been put on hold, but the Greek athlete is satisfied with the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games.

“I will say that for one second I was like, aww – but that was for like one second then I realised that there was not one part of the decision that was not 100% logical,” she says.

“Of course I would have liked to be able to defend the Olympic title this year, but, more than that, right now, I would like the world to not have a pandemic and people to not be dying.”

Prior to the postponement, Stefanidi had struggled to train as normal.

“It got a little bit more stressful when facilities closed down and we were hearing that the Olympics would go on as expected,” she says. “I think there was about a week or two in there where we said how can things go on as expected when there’s nothing we can do? I did feel when the postponement was announced it was a bit of relief.”

Ordinarily, Stefanidi is based in the USA, but she is currently on lockdown in Greece, to where she had travelled for the Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony. Lockdown measures were implemented while she was there, leaving her and husband/coach Mitch Krier a continent away from their normal home.

“Getting back is something we are debating a lot,” she explains. “We recently bought a lot in Colorado we’d started developing ourselves. We’re trying to have a small facility to pole vault in, then we will start building a house next to it.

“It’s such a perfect time for us to be there, but I am a little scared of flying across the world right now. So I think we’re going to wait. Right now we have no flights. I think the next flights are mid-May right now, from Greece to the US, so I think we might wait a little longer until we get what we feel is a safe time to fly.

“We are also waiting to see what will happen in the outdoor season. We don’t want to go back and then have to come back if there’s going to be an outdoor season. So we don’t know whether we’ll be here for the foreseeable because we don’t know what will happen later in the summer.”

So, for now, Stefanidi is finding ways to occupy her unexpected downtime, which includes attempting to replicate her father’s success on social media platform du-jour, TikTok.

“You know it’s very upsetting because my dad started a TikTok and he’s been getting all kinds of followers and views!” she explains. “My sister has had it for a very long time and she has not had nearly as many views as my dad! Obviously I’m too old to understand it. Or my soul is too old!

@georgestefanidis1

One finger push ups ##fyp ##firstpost ##foryou ##pushups ##onefinger ##foryoupage ##viral

♬ Rocky: Eye of the Tiger - Best Movie Soundtracks

“My sister will show us a couple of challenges here or there, we’ll do them just to spend some time, but my dad is killing it on TikTok. I don’t know what he’s doing right!”

Greek teammate Alexi Pappas finds herself in a similar position to Stefanidi.

Pappas is also based in the US for most of the year, but travelled to Greece for a training camp at the end of February with a view to securing an Olympic qualifying mark for the marathon a few months later.

Speaking to Talya Minsberg of the New York Times in a live online chat, Pappas – who set a Greek 10,000m record of 31:36.16 at the 2016 Olympic Games – explained how her goals for 2020 have changed.  

Day-to-day life in Greece is currently under strict government enforcement policies. Pappas has a rented apartment and needed a special permission slip in order to go to a stadium and train – that was until the postponement of the Olympics was announced and local guidelines changed. Now she can tick a ‘Personal Exercise’ box on the permission slip when she needs to run and be ready to show an identification card to the police. Failing to do so would lead to a fine.

Training has had to become very creative as well as physical, with some work on the beach being part of the new routine. Travel to training has to be in separate vehicles, with everyone hoping to arrive at the rendezvous point on time. The athletes set off at 30-second intervals and have fun trying to catch each other in their efforts.

Pappas compares people in lockdown to dandelion wands being blown in the wind:

“We are all flying around on the breeze on our own without knowing where we will land. We cannot control the wind, but we should still do our best despite this. If we focus on short term goals, perhaps just a week or a month for each, and we will get to wherever we are going in good shape.”

 
 
 
 
 
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i only look back for cameras . . bravies this is a wild & uncertain time— challenging times are the best time to pause & take intentional steps to be better. whether you’re trying to improve personal weaknesses (as i am with my drills) or simply trying to be a better citizen of this world by way of your actions, it’s all growth. even staying still is growth if that is something that represents growth for you. there is no going backwards in time, so let’s move forward as individuals & as a world team. I have no idea how long i will be in Greece given the quarantine etc but i do know i will ask myself to let my own life evolve & *change* while i am here πŸ’™ i will leave here someone different indeed . remember, the sea can feel scary & bright at the same time . . . πŸ“Έ teammie @xhulianomanko

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Saturday 18 April 

 

Uh oh – Jim just lost his CR

18:45 - 18 April
The athletics world has been awash with virtual races and treadmill challenges in recent weeks, but a trio of top French distance runners got their competitive juices flowing by attacking one of the toughest Strava segments in the US.

Mountain-running twins Damien and Michael Gras were joined by Jimmy Gressier, winner of five European U23 titles, as they embarked on the 33km segment in US distance-running Mecca Flagstaff, Arizona, in a bid to break the segment record of 1:56:37 held by world long distance mountain running champion Jim Walmsley.

Gressier led for much of the way, but Damien pulled ahead towards the end and finished first in 1:52:41. Michael was next to complete the segment in 1:53:56, just 12 seconds quicker than Gressier. All three men finished comfortably inside Walmsley’s previous record.

 
 
 
 
 
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La seconde tentative pour le KOM a été la bonne sur le segment Strava "A1 Loop" (33,3km ; 350m D+) à 2200m d'altitude πŸ‘Š en Nike Pegasus Turbo πŸ‘Ÿ - Tellement de souffrance de bout en bout à cause de l'enchaînement des séances mais un mental d'acier après 5 mois d'entraînement en altitude m'ont permis de suivre le rythme endiablé imposé par Jimmy GRESSIER et Damien GRAS 😀 - Malheureusement Jimmy craque en fin de parcours alors qu'il avait pris plusieurs longueurs d'avance : l'expérience marathon des Frères Gras a payé aujourd'hui 😁 - πŸ₯‡πŸ‘‘ @damien.gras 1h52min41s (3'22/km) πŸ₯ˆ @michael_gras_fra 1h53min56s (+1min15s) (3'25/km) πŸ₯‰ @jimmy_gressier 1h54min08s (+1min27s) (3'25/km) 🍫 @walmsleyruns 1h56min37s (+3min56s) (3'29/km) en novembre 2019 #longrun #strava #trailrunning #arizona🌡

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What day is it?

17:50 - 18 April
If you're one of those people who plans your year around major athletics events, you'll be able to relate to writer Erin Strout.

In a recent column on Women's Running, she opens up about how a clip of the 2018 Boston Marathon triggered a whole wave of emotions.

Desiree Linden

"Something about the cheesiness of the music, the audaciousness of the weather that year, and the sheer thrill of Linden’s win once made that 45-second clip kind of hilarious and ridiculous. On Thursday, though, it just made me sad. I watched it probably two dozen times before I figured out why something that had once seemed funny, now left me with a lump in my throat.

"That hollowness turned out to be a combination of nostalgia and grief, sitting in my family room on COVID-19 lockdown at the moment when thousands of us should be boarding planes bound for Boston. It’s the annual trek that marks the change of seasons, the 123-year-old anchor in the rhythm of our running lives."

Full article

 

Record run

17:45 - 18 April
Outdoor action may have dried up, but one indoor discipline in particular has been heating up in recent months.

The world record (as ratified by the Guinness Book of World Records – not by World Athletics) for running 50km on a treadmill has been broken three times in 2020.

The latest person to get their name in the record books is Swiss orienteer Matthias Kyburz, who clocked 2:56:36. To give that some context, it’s the same as running a 2:29 marathon – and then continuing for another 8km at the same pace.

Watch the full performance below. Or just skip ahead to the last few minutes. We won't judge.

 

Relieved but ready

17:00 - 18 April
Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk was relieved that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were postponed, but he says he'd have been ready to run this year had they gone ahead.

Wayde van Niekerk and Anna Botha

"I still believe I can go sub-43," he said in an interview with The Olympic Channel. "I can go way better than what I have in 100m and 200m, that’s where my mind was before the injury and that’s where my mind is at for the future."

His main concern at the moment is training with his coach, 78-year-old Ans Botha who, given her age, is in the at-risk category.

"Knowing that I had to be interacting with coach every day and hearing how it affects the older people, it took a bit of stress off our shoulders and it made a bit easier and for us to distance ourselves from society."

Full article

 

Endorsement contracts provide critical athlete support during Covid-19 crisis

12:00 - 18 April
Employment and earnings in many industries have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and athletics is no different.

Race Results Weekly approached several agents to ask how contracts have been affected. They found that many athletes are still receiving critical financial support through their endorsement contracts which allow them to train for when competition reopens.

But the financial pressure faced by shoe and apparel companies could eventually trickle down to Olympic sports like athletics.

"Many contracts roll into next year and beyond," said Ray Flynn of Flynn Sports Management, one of the largest agencies representing track and field athletes like distance runners Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson. "Some will expire at the end of this year. There's no guarantee that they'll get rolled over. There would be a natural changing of the guard at the end of 2020. It's really too early to assess what's happening in the future."

Full story

 
 
 
 
 
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Were proud to welcome 2019 NCAA Champion, @_clayton_young_ to the @flynnsports family and announce his signing to @asics! #flynnsporters

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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