COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact on an Athlete’s Olympic Games Prep

Last week I arrived in Phoenix to start my 8 week warm weather training block, intending to head straight from a solid few weeks here to the Sunshine State, Florida to join the British Athletics camp at the start of April.

But then…

Clermont Track Closure (Florida WWT Camp Cancelled)

Literally, a few hours into my 11 hour flight to Phoenix, I receive an email informing me that the Florida camp has been cancelled because the Clermont Track has been shut down.

Hmmm, I’m not even worried at this point. I’m still hopeful that things may change in the next few weeks.

(I don’t know why I call myself pessimistic when I had such a high level of delusion in that moment.)

Anyway, nothing I can do about that.

But then…

Trump bans travellers from Europe…and then the UK

I managed to escape the UK before the travel ban took place.

But with this revelation alongside the Clermont track closure, I finally accepted that the rest of my team and training group wouldn’t be able to come out at the start of April.

Still not panicking though because I thought, well, at least I’ll have a solid few weeks of training in Phoenix with Dan Pfaff and co at Altis. (Even Christabel, my old training partner (6.99m PB) had agreed to come over to train together for old time’s sake.)

But then…

The Altis ACP had been cancelled.

Dan would be going home in the next two days.

(Thankfully, I had some good Dan input for one session.)

And the nail in the coffin: “PVCC is still open as of right now, BUT this could change any day now.”

So, my decision to return home after a solid week of training changed in less than 24 hours when I started to feel anxiety rising at so many unknowns.

If I caught the COVID-19 coronavirus in the USA, how would I survive without my Mummy?

Literally, my main concern. (I’m 30, but if I feel unwell, she’s the first person I call.)

So I cancelled the flights booked to leave in 7 days and booked new ones to leave in two days.

With things changing on a day to day basis, it could be too late to return to the UK if I chanced my arm to the end of the week.

(Lucky I did that, because the next day I arrive at PVCC to locked gates. And the following day, no EXOS* either. And, as of now, tracks are still open in the UK.)

*EXOS is a weights room, recovery centre and alternative training facility with grass turf and a 4-lane, 50 metre track.

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Myself and the legend, Dan Pfaff (I promise I held my breath when this photo was taken and haven’t hugged anybody else since!)

Track Closures

PVCC being closed on Monday was no big deal. Me and Christabel still got in an awesome session. It was a welcome reminder to the benefits of having a world-class training partner to sprint alongside and the sun on your back and legs. I timed one acceleration run and it was a massive SB and close to a PB. (I almost felt sad to be leaving until the following day I learned EXOS was also closed!)

So when the track and EXOS closed, here’s what I had access to – a nearby park. (I’m actually really thankful for this!)

Having googled ‘parks nearby’ and checked out the photos, I chose one that was a 3 minute drive away. In the end, I walked the 15 minutes to the park (gotta get that extra exercise in somehow!), did a full warm up, a few strides, some bounds, take-off jump drills and walked back home.

Thankfully, I flew back that day to the UK. (Well, I hope so. I’m currently writing this from my Airbnb in Phoenix. Ha!)

And I imagine it’s only a matter of time before what’s happening across Europe, the USA and the world, may take place in the UK – lockdown.

Then what?


So, on a final note, I am the biggest proponent of the Tokyo Olympic Games still taking place this year, because… I’m sure you’re aware of my history with Olympic years, and if not… it’s too depressing to share right now.

Anyway, I thought 2020 was third time lucky.

I’m in the form of my life (I jumped a PB last year and finished 7th at the World Champs.)

I have an Olympic standard! (Whoop!)

And I really hadn’t intended to stay in this sport for super duper long beyond the Olympic Games.

Yet, here we are, considering pushing the Games back to 2021… or 2022 I’ve heard.

And I’m gutted.

But I also wonder, in the interests of fairness and accessibility for fans and athletes alike, how likely is it that the Games will still take place?

We are surely all asking the same question. And thinking the same thing.

Nobody wants to be the one to say it. I dared not even think it or say it out loud, let alone type it out for posterity.

If I could pray for anything in this world, it would be for this to be over immediately.

And I’m definitely still praying that prayer. Daily. Hourly. Moment by moment.

But, once the dust settles, after all the track bans, lockdowns and training disruptions, how prepared will athletes be to compete for qualifying standards, medals and titles at a 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games?

Final finally…don’t even get me started on competitions!

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