News28 Mar 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 26-28 March


Stadium on lockdown (© 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.

Previous updates:
20-22 March
23-25 March

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak

Saturday 28 March


With Tokyo postponed, Coburn, like other athletes, is trying to answer, 'Now what?'

17:10 - 28 March
In a post on, the 2017 world steeplechase champion and 2019 world silver medallist writes:

In September, when we raced the World Championships and I won the silver medal, I had a fire in my belly and felt a buzz whenever we talked about the Tokyo Olympics. I was ready. I knew what I needed to do physically and mentally to make the U.S. Olympic Team and to be standing on the podium in Tokyo. That fire in my belly is now just a tiny spark, but it will grow again.

This is out of our control, and I have found peace and clarity in that. I have not cried, I have not felt anguish or fear. There is nothing I can do except to be positive, be a responsible citizen, and get my mind right for the long road to Tokyo. I have recently learned that what we expect, what we crave and dream about, isn’t always what we will get, no matter how hard we work and no matter how seemingly unfair something is.


For all of us, including athletes, this is a lesson in patience, selflessness, and gratitude. I know when I line up to race, whenever that day comes, I will be so damn grateful.

Read the rest.


Freimuth helping volunteer efforts in Halle

15:10 - 28 March
Via the German federation DLV comes this story from which reports on how decathlete Rico Freimuth and his club SV Halle are volunteering in their community during the Coronavirus crisis.

On the mend from a torn ACL injury, the two-time world championships medallist is helping those most at risk with their grocery shopping - by doing it for them.

"If there is a need, the club will call me," he said. "Then I get a shopping list. And then I buy that."

But he soon realised that he wasn't just providing a delivery service.

"The last time, I was with an older man who is single. He just wanted to talk a little bit."



Hadadi, Asian discus champion, tests positive for Coronavirus

11:30 - 28 March
We've received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for Coronavirus.

Hadadi, whose laurels include six Asian Championships titles, four Asian Games wins and the 2012 Olympic silver medal, trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.

Iran is among the countries most hard-hit by the spread of the the virus, with 2,517 deaths reported as of yesterday.

We wish Hadadi a full and swift recovery.


Llorente, Spanish cross country international in the 1970s and 1980s, dies from Coronavirus

10:30 - 28 March
RFEA, the Spanish Federation and European Athletics have relayed the very sad news that Santiago Llorente, one of the country's leading cross country runners in the late 1970s and early 1980s, died on Friday (27) morning after contracting Covid-19. He was 61.

Llorente won silver in the U20 race at the 1977 World Cross Country Championships in Dusseldorf, and garnered team silver in that same race alongside Jose Manuel Abascal and Antonio Prieto. He also raced to team silver in the U20 race the year before.

As a senior, he was 20th at the World Cross Country Championships in 1986 and later that year took the nationa 10,000m title and competed over that distance at the European Championships.

In a tweet, RFEA President and World Athletics Council Member Raul Chapado, wrote, "The worst news of the day, Santiago Llorente has passed away from the damn virus. He was a winner in Venta de Baños and the runner-up in the junior race at the 1977 World Cross Country Championships. Our condolences and encouragement to his family and friends. RIP".

More from European Athletics and RFEA (Spanish).



Friday 27 March


Boslak on the front line

22:30 - 27 March
After retiring from competitive athletics four years ago, 2012 world indoor pole vault silver medallist Vanessa Boslak started a new career as a physiotherapist.

But while many of her past competitors are still active athletes and have one eye on competing at the Olympic Games in 2021, in recent weeks Boslak has been on the front line of tackling the coronavirus in France, working at a clinic in Saint-Cloud.

Vanessa Boslak

"We have two resuscitation wings, one of which welcomes patients who have COVID-19," she told "They cough a lot, so I do respiratory physiotherapy to help people who are congested.

"Unfortunately we don't have enough masks. Had it not been for some masks that were donated by the wife of a patient, I would not have been able to work this week."

Full article (in French)

Meanwhile, many of Boslak's former French team-mates have joined a campaign to help fund France's efforts in tackling the virus.

"The nursing staff are on the front line," says the #COVID19-OPERATION-1-ere-URGENCE website. "They are our biggest defenders, let's be their first supporters."

World 50km race walk record-holder Yohann Diniz is one of many leading French athletes who are supporting the campaign.


Worth the wait

21:45 - 27 March
Throughtout her international career, Canadian distance runner Krista Duchene was forced to miss numerous championship opportunities.

Krista Duchene

"With three babies and one broken leg, I've sat out of four different seasons over the years," she posted on Instagram.

"I learned that I could recharge mentally while maintaining a good amount of fitness. Each time I returned with an incredible passion and was faster than ever before.

"Our bodies will remember what to do when we train and race again."

She has also put together a helpful 'adjusting to life at home with the kids' guide on


A letter from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe

18:00 - 27 March
I am comforted in these intolerable circumstances, which are affecting every continent on the planet, of the creativity and resilience of people. From my teams in Monaco who are completing their second week in isolation but still running the business, and our Member Federations in 214 countries who are trying, day by day and hour by hour, to figure out how to keep everything afloat, to our amazing athletes who are doing whatever they can to train in bedrooms and backyards while also finding time to produce inspirational and motivational videos and tutorials for adults and children who, like them are confined to their homes across the world. I have never been prouder of them. The spirit of human optimism and endeavour stands the test of time. When we get through this, and we will, we will be braver and more innovative. We will be more collaborative and resilient. We will be stronger and more tolerant. We will be more global, not less.

Full letter

Sebastian Coe


Peters happy to wait another year

17:20 - 27 March
The first line of Anderson Peters' Instagram bio says 'Future Olympian'.

The world champion was still just a teenager when the Rio 2016 Olympic Games took place and was a few metres short of the qualifying mark, so he had hoped to make his Olympic debut this year.

Anderson Peters

But the Grenadian is happy to wait another year to become an Olympian if it means the world can be united through sport in a safe way.

"I honestly think that it was the best to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games until 2021 due to the COVID-19," said the 22-year-old. "Many athletes have not been able to train efficiently and effectively for the past few weeks. The Olympic Games is basically about world unity, so not having the countries represented by its best athletes would not be good for the sport.

"Another positive impact is that athletes get an additional year to prepare for the Olympic Games. So I would like to thank the IOC on its decision to postpone the Olympic Games."


Great Ethiopian Run supports the fight against the virus

16:40 - 27 March
The Great Ethiopian Run has donated 500,000 birr (about €13,750) to Ethiopia's national support committee.


Rego: Your 'only' is someone else's 'everything'

12:50 - 27 March
US middle-distance runner Amanda Rego has tested positive for the coronavirus. In the wake of her positive test, she posted a video on Facebook to share her experiences and insights.


Mihaljevic's ventilator appeal

12:20 - 27 March
Croatian shot putter Filip Mihaljevic, winner of the shot put on this year's World Athletics Indoor Tour, has issued a plea for help.

His home town of Livno in Bosnia and Herzegovina has 90,000 people but just one ventilator, so an online donation page has been launched to try to raise funds for more ventilators.


Stockholm, Naples and Rabat Wanda Diamond League meetings on hold

11:30 - 27 March
Following last week's announcement that the first three meetings in the 2020 Wanda Diamond League have been postponed, three more meetings - Stockholm (scheduled for 24 May), Naples/Rome (28 May) and Rabat (31 May) - are also on hold.

Here's the full story

Diamond trophies


Thursday 26 March


Back to where it all started

18:50 - 26 March
Staying at home makes it difficult for most athletes to complete their usual training. But luckily for pole vault world record-holder Mondo Duplantis, he has everything he needs in his family's back yard.

View this post on Instagram

Back to where it all started #StrongTogether #borntofly

A post shared by Mondo Duplantis (@mondo_duplantis) on


Harper Nelson: '2021 Olympics will be a celebration of the world winning'

14:55 - 26 March
Dawn Harper Nelson had hoped that 2020 would be her comeback year.

The 2008 Olympic champion retired at the end of 2018 and gave birth to her first child in April 2019. But seven months later, she realised she wasn't quite done with the sport and resumed training with a view to contend for a place on USA's Olympic team.

Harper Nelson, who will turn 36 in May and will be closer to - or would have turned - 37 by the time the Tokyo Olympics takes place, but she will continue to pursue her goal.

Dawn Harper Nelson

"As long as my body is telling me I can do it, we’re going to go for it,” she told "Now it’s like I have to keep my excitement and a little bit of anxiety for a whole other year.

“I know a lot of athletes really have taken a step back and really looked at humanity. Now we’re realising if you say you love your fellow man, then you want everybody to go to the Olympics and you want to compete against the best in the world.

“I feel like Tokyo 2020 now turning into 2021 is going to symbolise that the world has overcome this pandemic and everyone is back to health. We’re here to celebrate so much more than just winning. It’s almost like the world winning.”



Stahl's Olympic - and world record - dreams on hold

14:40 - 26 March
World discus champion Daniel Stahl is one of many athletes around the world who had been looking forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Not just that; he had also been hoping to break the world record at some point this year on the international circuit.

But the 27-year-old from Sweden is happy to wait until 2021 to compete at the Olympics when the crisis will hopefully be over.

Daniel Stahl

He posted on Instagram:

With the cancellation of our training camps and early competitions, where I had planned to test myself and perhaps even attack the world record, these past few weeks have been difficult. But we kept our focus - which is, of course, Tokyo 2020. Everything else is just preparation for the Olympic Games.

For an athlete like myself, the Olympics is not something that happens once every four years; it is something that drives me every day for those four years, and now I just have more time to prepare to be even better.

We'll keep our eyes on the prize and now we'll modify our plans and work backwards from July 2021 to put all the training in place.

For now we must all come together in difficult circumstances and protect the most vulnerable in our society, and get through these unprecedented times. I hope to be able to give the Swedish people something to look forward to once this crisis is behind us, and will continue to train as best as I can so that perhaps this summer I can take part in some competitions and show people that I am in the best form of my life after a great winter of training.

When the world is safe for sport to start again, I will be ready. But most importantly I will be ready for Tokyo 2021.


Statement from the World Athletics Athletes' Commission

11:40 - 26 March
The World Athletics Athletes' Commission welcomes the decision from the Japanese Government and the IOC to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021. We believe that this decision not only provides the clarity that athletes were seeking in these trying times but also allows athletes to focus on staying healthy and helping combat this unprecedented global health crisis.

We understand that many questions remain unanswered, and as we move forward, we will continue to work closely with World Athletics and other athlete groups in our sport to provide answers to those questions. To that end, we have begun working with World Athletics to explore the possibility of providing athletes with competition opportunities this year, provided that it is safe to do so. Additionally, we expect to be part of the review process of the current Olympic qualification system, and will ensure that athletes’ concerns are taken into consideration before any amendments to that system are implemented.

Full statement (in English and French)


Uganda's new (and unofficial) national anthem

10:00 - 26 March
On this day three years ago, the athletics world descended on Uganda for the World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017.

It was a memorable celebration of the sport as huge crowds packed out the Kololo Independence Grounds in Uganda's capital to cheer on the world's best distance runners.

Fast forward to now, and athletics action may be on hold, but the Ugandans have once again risen to the occasion. Singer Bobi Wine has produced the 'Corona Virus Alert', a song to help encourage people to take the pandemic seriously and follow all relevant advice.

We like to think the likes of world 800m champion Halima Nakaayi and fellow Ugandan Winnie Nanyondo will be dancing to this while in isolation.

Nakaayi and Nanyondo