News22 Mar 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 20-22 March


A jogger in Washington DC (Β© Getty Images)

Welcome to The New Normal: life in the time of coronavirus, where we'll be sharing stories and updates about how athletes are adjusting to and coping with the spread of COVID-19. We'll be providing updates regularly and daily and encourage athletes to get in touch so we can share their stories, too.

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak

 Sunday 22 March


Health and hope

20:55 - 22 March
With valuable ranking points up for grabs for Olympic qualification, the 2020 Multistars meeting was more popular than ever. But as Italy experienced the full impact of the arrival of coronavirus in Europe, Multistars was also the first competition to deal with the rapidly changing circumstances. And finally, this week the news came that the meeting was cancelled.

Meeting director Barbara Lombardi tells Decathletes of Europe the story of her experience over the last few months, offering a glimpse into what many competition organisers have experienced during this pandemic.


In December, we already had a full start list, and in February we had requests that would have taken us much higher than our maximum capacity limit. The waiting list was also full!

Unfortunately, suddenly came the news that the Covid-19 virus was beginning to spread... Later, it was decreed that the epidemic had become a pandemic. The situation quickly escalated.

With much sadness, and after consulting with all the members involved in the organization, we decided that the Multistars meeting could not go ahead.

We always had hope that the situation would improve, but unfortunately it was not so. First and foremost, our priority is the safety and health of the athletes and their coaches.



Runners going solo after coronavirus postponements

13:20 - 22 March
Hundreds of road races have been cancelled or postponed, but many runners are venturing outside - while still adhering to the social distancing guidelines - to take on the distances they were scheduled to contest.


"When you have been getting up at 05:30 every morning to take the kids to school and before work, it has been cold and wet with the storms, and so many people have sponsored me, I didn't want to feel like all that training was wasted," said recreational runner Zoe Tickner.

"It felt amazing once I had finished. I am going to keep going out running for as long as we are allowed to and keep my fitness up."



Malaysian hammer thrower Wong in stable condition

12:30 - 22 March
Jackie Wong, who holds the Malaysian record in the hammer, recently contracted the virus from his father, Sarikei Member of Parliament Wong Ling Biu. The 2017 South East Asian Games champion is in a stable condition, although both he and his father are still in hospital.

Jackie Wong

He posted this recent update on facebook:

“I am currently being quarantined and am receiving treatment at the Sibu Hospital.

“So far, I am in a stable and healthy condition. My father's condition has improved today compared to a few days ago but he still needs assistance from a breathing machine.

“Please continue to pray for my father and family members.

“I would also like to remind everyone not to share fake news and those not verified by the health ministry.”


 Saturday 21 March


Barega too, going it alone

18:50 - 21 March
Selemon Barega is also feeling the loneliness of the long distance runner. The world 5000m silver medallist writes:

Since I started hearing about the coronavirus over the last week, the last few days were anxious days.

Right now I am not training in a group but I am still preparing myself for competition. Training individually is not my thing, I always try to be in a group. But not now, or for a while, so it will reduce my motivation a bit on my training days.

I am fully committed on my work and preparations. I hope the track season will go accordingly.


De Witte: 'We’re adapting every day'

16:40 - 21 March
Dutch sprinter Lisanne de Witte, the European 400m bornze medallist indoors and out, believes she'll emerge a stronger athlete and person when the epidemic passes.

She writes:

It’s a difficult time for everyone. On some days I feel like the world is against us athletes and then I am aware all the various situations other people are in. Most of those are much worse. We are all affected by it in serious ways. To be honest, I’m really trying to stay positive and to find solutions for all the restrictions that keep coming every day. But it’s not easy without knowing what will come and how long this situation will last. However, I’m really motivated to make sure I stay fit and ready to race whenever that is.

Our training camp to prepare for the Olympics got cancelled because of the travel bans, so it will be a bigger challenge to get race ready if the Olympics happen as planned in July/August. Here at home I am still able to do some sessions. Although it is without the whole training group and officially without the presence of my coach, I am very grateful we can still do some work. The National Olympic Committee cancelled all organised training sessions in groups or gyms, but we have to be careful we keep our distance.

We’re adapting every day and trying to be creative with our training program. Without having my group around me to pace and push me in workouts, it adds a mental challenge too. It’s different to what I’m used to, but I’m certain it will make me stronger in the end.

Starting the Olympic Games without a proper build up to it that include some good races is definitely not ideal. Racing is an important way for me to get race ready. To peak at the right time, at the right moment. It won’t be easy, but when I need to be ready, I will be ready.


Marathoner Scullion: 'This is a time to find gratitude in simple things'

15:20 - 21 March
The Irish Olympic marathon hopeful writes in Spikes:

We’re living in a time of crazy.

I don’t know what to expect every day. No one does. At moments like this, you realise running is so, so small.

Don’t get me wrong: the sport means everything to me, but it just takes something like this to make you see the big picture. That threshold run you were annoyed about because it didn’t go as fast as you wanted? Yeah, not such a big deal anymore.



Indoor marathon, anybody?

13:45 - 21 March
On a lighter note, ultrarunner Diego Casabbone just ran a 3:51 marathon - inside his small apartment in Lima, Peru. Swipe through the images for full effect.

View this post on Instagram

MARATÓN EN CASAπŸƒ‍β™‚οΈπŸ‘. Hoy decidí seguir eso que algunos estaban haciendo de correr por su departamento y sin querer queriendo termine corriendo una MARATÓN. Fueron sus ricos 42.2km en un espacio que me toma 54 pasos darle la vuelta, incluyendo cuartos. . . Al comienzo era súper divertido (considerando 😏) porque mi ruta la hacia con bastantes curvas y cuando corres a velocidad son súper rápidas así que había que estar atento pero conforme fui bajando la velocidad y agarrando un ritmo constante pude simplemente subir el volumen del parlante y disfrutar durante las casi 4hrs que estuve dándole la vuelta a mis 100mts cuadrados de concreto. Si le pones curvas a la ruta es como si estuvieras corriendo por senderos en zigzag en las montañas β›°πŸ˜. @adidasterrex . . Los invito a vivir una cuarentena más activa corriendo por tu casa con el hashtag #corriendoencasa y etiquetándome para que puedan ganar unas zapatillas @adidaspe SL20 (ver mi anterior post). . #felizcuarentena #cuarentrena #trailrunner #maraton #indoormarathon #cuarentena #correr #marathon

A post shared by Diego Casabonne (@the_running_cuy) on


In Ethiopia, cancelled marathons make time for rest and reflection

12:55 - 21 March
Ethiopian distance running coach Haji Adilo reports that athletes who were targeting specific spring marathons were left with little do do. Some decided to rest, others to reflects.

"Since the virus was not active in Ethiopia they wear training in groups but then stopped their training when they heard that the races they were preparing for were canceled," Adilo said. His last group was preparing for the Boston and London marathons, initially scheduled for April.

Rising star Roza Dereje, who at just 22 improved her career best to 2:18:30 in Valencia last December and was on the London slate, said: "I was working hard and wanted desperately to win and make my coach and country proud." Instead, demoralised by the cancellation, she left the training group and decided to take a six-week break while visiting her family.

Like Dereje, Kinde Atanew made his big career splash at the Valencia Marathon three-and-a-half months ago where he clocked 2:03:51. He was targeting the Rotterdam Marathon, also originally scheduled for April.

"He was sorry that the race was cancelled, but said that everything happens for a reason," Adilo said. Atanew turned to his faith for solace, choosing to visit and pray for a week at a holy site.


Aspiring Scottish hurdler Vicki Anestik is finding a way to train

11:55 - 21 March
Inspired by world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the young hurdler has moved some furniture to do her drills.


Eliud Kipchoge is keeping an isolation diary for the BBC

11:30 - 21 March
In the first installment, the marathon world record-holder talks about being forced to train alone.

He says:

It's really hard to train alone because I value teamwork. I am trying to quarantine myself, stay with the family. And make sure that I don't actually mingle with a lot of people.



'I was spitting blood' - interview with Italian athlete Edoardo Melloni, currently being treated for COVID-19.

10:40 - 21 March
Luck was on the middle distance runner's side. After coughing fits that lasted for as long as ten minutes, Melloni was admitted to the emergency room, where he tested positive for Coronavirus and diagnosed with pneumonia. He's recovering but remains hospitalised in Milan's Sacco Hospital.

From an interview with AIPS:

Q: Where do you think you could have contracted the virus?

A: I had isolated myself from the social way well before it was made mandatory by the various (national decrees). I was working from home and went out early in the morning to train in Parco Nord. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a very large park in Milan. On Monday 9th I had to go to work to retrieve some documents I needed and to leave the company car. To get back I took the subway and I really believe that the infection occurred there, because the symptoms appeared three days (later).



 Friday 20 March


Barshim: 'It’s the first time in my sport career to train without a target'

17:55 - 20 March
World high jump champion Mutaz Barshim admits that he's feeling a little directionless at the moment, but also sees the bigger picture.

Barshim writes:

I have to stay home except for when I train or shop for groceries. For me it’s not that big of a difference, since I always stay at home.

Of course it has affected my training - the plan is not going as it’s supposed to. We can’t access some of the facilities. And we have to cut the training sessions short.

Luckily I am able to work with my coach.

It's a very strange situation; it’s the first time in my sport career to train without a target. I don’t know when my first competition will be, if there will be an Olympics or when the season will start. So it’s difficult to keep motivated with no target to work towards.

But in times like this health is the top priority. I just hope everybody will stay safe and listen to the authorities and comply with the instructions and warnings in order to prevent the spread of the virus.


Family workouts with the Lavillenies

17:10 - 20 March
Watch Renaud Lavillenie's backyard workout - with a little help from his wife.


Nick Willis: 'I'm more motivated to run and run than ever'

16:15 - 20 March
Said the two-time Olympic 1500m medallist:


Weightman emphasises the importance of leading a balanced life

14:30 - 20 March
Although she's a 2:25 marathoner and three-time Olympian, Lisa Weightman has never been a full-time athlete. Yet, at 41 she is working towards what she believes will be her best Olympic appearance, balancing that with what she can do now to best help her community.


Lisa Weightman wins the Sunshine Coast Half Marathon


The Australian distance star writes:

I work for IBM and my focus this week has been on how we work through supporting our people and the people in Australia - businesses and mental health during this time.

I've moved into an IBM task force and we are looking at how our people and technology can be shifted to help now and when we recover. I've never been a full time athlete and hopefully this scare will show athletes the importance of a balanced life as there's always a tipping point.

I'm someone who needs to always have a focus so I am shifting my energy in the direction of how I can support the country through my work.

Since Saturday I've just been going out for 10km runs, some fast some slow, and some a combo as my mind is on topics of future survival as opposed to the Olympics. I personally did everything I could at the time to be ready and will continue to tick along but continuing extreme marathon training isn't the best for the immune system so just a solid level of fitness is the right decision for all - and World Athletics will soon advise everyone that is the best approach right now I'm sure.

I hope we get to hold the Olympics next year as it will be a celebration for humanity. It would be my fourth and based on the shape I was in before all this I hope that it will be my best.

To press on as if we are holding this year is not healthy for athlete well-being.

I have a Dad with a heart condition and Parkinson's so like almost the entire population we are focused on making sure they live through this in time for a cure and vaccine.


Asher-Smith: 'Life is what matters but as Olympians we must stay ready'

13:15 - 20 March
Writing in The Telegraph, world 200m champion champion Dina Asher-Smith says:

I am used to focusing on how to keep improving, how to protect and maintain my career trajectory and performance. But these new and uncertain times underline the fragility of life, how lucky we are to be protected by modern medicine and vaccinations, and how much we all depend on a healthy global community.

With the current cancellation of many sporting fixtures, and the very real prospect of closures of public spaces in the coming weeks, we are at once humbled and reminded that what we do as a profession – or enjoy regularly as spectators – is a luxury. It puts all our lives into perspective.



Mayer's got a challenge for you

12:15 - 20 March
Decathlon world record holder Kevin Mayer is encouraging people to stay healthy and keep a good diet while they're in self-isolation or lockdown with a #dietchallenge.

View this post on Instagram

Bonsoir à tous ! Je vous propose un challenge pour que ce confinement nous soit bénéfique : Le #dietchallenge. On a tous ce défaut dès qu'on s’ennuie de regarder sans cesse dans le frigo et de grignoter tout au long de la journée. Le but de ce défi est donc de ne pas prendre de masse grasse durant la période de quarantaine ! Je poste cette photo pour vous montrer ma forme du moment : 9% de masse grasse. Mon but: qu’à la fin du confinement, ce taux n’ai pas augmenté, et même pourquoi pas baissé ! Pour participer, pas besoin de prendre votre masse grasse, il vous suffit juste de partager vos photos ou vidéos de plats, d’exercices ou autres techniques, en me mentionnant dans vos posts / stories avec le #dietchallenge. Je partagerai tous les jours les plus motivés/inventifs d’entre vous ! Il ne s’agit pas là d’un concours de culturisme ou du jugement physique d’une personne. Il s’agit plutôt d’éviter la sur-consommation alimentaire, ce qui entre nous, pourrait aussi modérer les queues des magasins alimentaire et de ce fait, améliorer les mesures de confinement… On dit souvent que le sport fait maigrir, mais si vous voulez bien en croire mon expérience, c’est la qualité et la quantité de nourriture que vous ingérez qui sont responsable de l’augmentation de la matière grasse. Ne tombons pas aussi dans le panneau de la perte de poids, le but est de bien manger et faire un minimum d’exercice pour être en bonne santé ! Bouffer n’est pas la seule occupation que nous ayons ! Alors bon courage et à la fin du confinement, 3 participants seront tirés au sort et recevront des lots que je dévoilerai plus tard. Notre seul moyen d’aider le personnel médical est de respecter les mesures de confinement, je leur fais part de tout mon courage et mon soutien.

A post shared by Mayer Kevin (@mayer.deca) on


Pole vaulting at home, under lockdown

11:00 - 20 March
Emmanuel Karalis shows us how.


Pringle: 'My motivation has stayed the same'

10:15 - 20 March
The main chore on Myles Pringle's 2020 calendar was not an easy one: to earn a berth on the Tokyo-bound US squad in the 400m. The 22-year-old sprinter writes:

My morale and motivation have stayed the same! Until I am told that the olympics are either being cancelled or postponed I will continue to train the same way I have been with the same motivation.

Training has not been affected too much, I have had to find a new place to train because the facility that I used has been closed but we were told that we could at least use the track to get our workouts in.

Of course some workouts will be tapered just so I am prepared for the chance a meet does arise but other than that I have no thought of not training. Looking ahead, if for some chance everything involving the virus does die down and we are allowed to compete again, they should move the Trials and Olympics back so that everyone has a fair chance at qualifying.


The kindness of strangers

09:30 - 20 March
ICYMI - Last week US middle distance runner Rebecca Mehra helped a scared couple with their grocery shopping. The story exploded: Today, USA Today, People, Mother Jones and countless others reported on her random act of kindness. Even Ellen DeGeneres took note. 

Here's a report on CBS News