News08 Apr 2020

The New Normal: Life in the time of coronavirus - 4-8 April


An empty athletics training facility (© 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
26-28 March
29-31 March
1-3 April

Updates by Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak

Wednesday 8 April


Fitness with some distance

20:20 - 8 April
The best thing about having an Olympian as a neighbour is that they can double up as a personal trainer for the whole street.

Former sprinter Donna Fraser, who finished fourth in the 400m at the 2000 Olympic Games, recently led an impromptu exercise class for her neighbours in London.


Food fit for an Olympian

18:40 - 8 April
The industrial-sized kitchens and catering staff of the Sydney Olympic Stadium have been repurposed to provide meals for travellers who are in quarantine in Sydney hotels.


Got time on your hands? Why not plant 3000 trees?

17:30 - 8 April
With no races or group training sessions on the horizon, Kenyan 400m sprinter Alex Sampao - like many athletes - has a lot more spare time on his hands.

Alex Sampao

The 2013 world U18 bronze medallist has taken to planting trees on his family land and has set himself the target of planting 3000 in the coming weeks.

"For now I am just at home planting trees in my farm, and nursing my dad who was involved in a road accident three weeks ago," said Sampao. "It is high time that I now focus in planting trees to make our farm green again. That is the only way I can ensure that my time is well spent, otherwise boredom will get the better of me."

Full story


Donato Sabia, 1963-2020

10:00 - 8 April
World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that Italy's 1984 European indoor 800m champion Donato Sabia has died at the age of 58 in Potenza where he had been hospitalised after contracting the coronavirus.

In 1984, two months after winning the European indoor title, Sabia clocked a world best of 1:00.08 over 500m. A few weeks later, he set an Italian 800m record of 1:43.88 - a mark which stood for 14 years. He went on to finish fifth at that year's Olympic Games in both the 800m and 4x400m. He made the Olympic final again in 1988, finishing seventh.


Tuesday 7 April


'Now is the time to keep dreams and hope alive'

20:30 - 7 April
Rose Nathike was the flag bearer for the Olympic Refugee Team at the Rio 2016 Games. The 800m runner is back at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, but remains focused on her training for next year's Olympics in Tokyo.

Rose Nathike

"As refugees, as athletes, we have to be strong and never lose hope. Because even in normal life you will face some hardships. Some difficult situations in your life can last for years. So, if you have a goal you always must remain focus on it despite the current situation. Keep your dreams and hope alive. Never lose hope, keep on training. This pandemic has hit us hard, but it will end."

Full story


Great indoors, less so outdoors (and in the back garden)

19:30 - 7 April
Olusoji Fasuba was once one of the fastest men on the planet.

He still holds the African 100m record at 9.85, but his biggest triumph came indoors when he won the 2008 world indoor 60m title.

Although he retired from top-flight athletics 10 years ago, Fasuba still likes to keep in shape. But his daughter looks pretty speedy too.


Olympic qualification period suspended until 1 December 2020

16:00 - 7 April

Tokyo Stadium

World Athletics announces today the qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is suspended effective from 6 April 2020 until 30 November 2020 included, following consultation with its Athletes' Commission, Area Presidents and Council.

During this period, results achieved at any competition will not be considered for Tokyo 2020 entry standards or world rankings, the publication of which will also be suspended.

Subject to the global situation returning to normal, the qualification period will resume on 1 December 2020 and continue to the new qualification deadline in 2021 set by the International Olympic Committee (see qualification period table at the end). The total qualification period, which started in 2019, will be four months longer than it was originally.

Full story


Fifth time lucky

14:45 - 7 April
When Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová became pregnant last year, she realised she would have to miss the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The European bronze medallist had been aiming to compete at what would have been her fifth Games. She made three Winter Olympic appearances as a cross-country skier and then represented the Czech Republic in the marathon in Rio in 2016.

Eva Vrabcova

But the 34-year-old, who holds the Czech record at 2:26:31, now has an extra year to get into shape following the birth of her child, due in the next four weeks.

"I haven't run since January," she told "I've realised how much I miss the sport and I'm eager to return to running. I know I won't be able to race again straight after the birth, but racing is a great motivation. The Olympic postponement is good news for me. I'm not sure how selection will work, but if it is possible then I would like to race at the Games."

Full story


Relay for Lebanon-and-on-and-on-and-on

13:15 - 7 April
Lock-down couldn't stop this group of Lebanese athletes from marking yesterday's International Day of Sport for Development and Peace:


Kipruto: 'I remain hopeful we can compete from August or September. I will prepare with that in mind'

10:30 - 7 April
With Kenya under coronavirus lockdown, world 10,000m bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto recently left his training base in Iten and now is back home in Kombatich, a town southeast of Eldoret where he’s adjusting as best he can.

“I have to organise training alone and away from my training base in Iten, plan finances for family responsibilities, and deal with many challenges most of us are facing day-to-day,” he said in an email to World Athletics.

“I used to train in a group in an adidas-supported St. Patrick’s program in Iten and now I train alone in my home area. Pushing yourself alone is more difficult, so we have adjusted training to a more general training program, as opposite to a specific preparation.”

He receives training instructions via email and follows that, he said, “but we will not meet for some time.”

Given the sweeping changes in the global competition calendar, Kipruto admits that finding motivation has become a challenge.

“We don’t have targets and we don’t know what to train for,” he said. “I love running, so running comes naturally, but professional sport, training and all the sacrifice is driven by specific targets and these targets are now non-existent. I remain hopeful we can compete from August or September and I will prepare with that in mind.”

Being back home has meant an entirely different routine.

“As I am back to my home area, life revolves around spending time with the family, working around the farm, running to maintain fitness and weight,” he said, adding that he spends much more time on the phone that when he’s in ful training.

“My life in St. Patrick’s in Iten is always structured around a train-eat-sleep routine and there is a sense of purpose in what is being done each day. At the moment, it feels to me that I am waiting for something to happen and for life to resume.

“This is a time of real life challenges to many and I often think of sick people, doctors, nurses and hospital staff and all who are ensuring that Kenya and many one countries are functioning as well as possible at this time.”


Monday 6 April


Denny's portable circle

15:20 - 6 April
Australian thrower Matt Denny's brother just saved the day for his discus-chucking brother. With training facilities rapidly shutting down, Denny can now go in search of throwing areas - and bring along the portable circle his brother made for him.

Yes, it probably is the only one in Australia.


'This is what it's like to live under a running ban.'

11:40 - 6 April
Outside magazine takes a look at various restrictions that have been put on running in different countries and how avid runners have adapted.

In one of the morbid ironies of our present moment, keeping up with the coronavirus news cycle sometimes feels like a health risk in itself. When exasperated emergency room doctors must resort to gonzo-style reporting to vent their despair—or the President suggests that keeping the national death toll between 100,000 and 200,000 would be a massive success—a quick glance at the day’s headlines is enough to cause your blood pressure to spike.

Fortunately, runners in the United States can still find temporary solace in their hobby. Even in states like California, where a “shelter-in-place” order has been in effect since March 19, residents are still officially allowed to exercise outside. But if recent events have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take even our most basic freedoms for granted. Runners in other parts of the world have already had to learn this lesson the hard way.

Read the rest.


Jo Pavey's tips for running during the Coronavirus pandemic

10:00 - 6 April
Among the British distance running star's tips: be positive, use the resetting of goals as motivation, change up your pace, and discover new routes.



Sunday 5 April


Because at 50, what's one more year?

23:15 - 5 April
Spanish race walker Jesus Angel Garcia created history in Doha last year when he made a record 13th appearance at a World Athletics Championships. At the age of 49, he also became the oldest ever competitor at the event.

Jesus Angel Garcia

The 1993 world champion had tied Merlene Ottey's record for Olympic appearances in Rio in 2016 - his seventh Games. He had been hoping to extend that record in Tokyo this year, but of course now he will have to wait until 2021 - when he will be 51.

But even though time isn't on his side, he's happy to wait another 12 months.

"I will continue fighting to be able to end my career in Tokyo," he told El Mundo Deportivo. "I do not want the coronavirus to cut me off from that end point."


Quarantine decathlon

22:00 - 5 April
If a decathlete can find ways of training at home for all 10 disciplines, then anyone can.

Dario Dester, who holds the Italian U20 decathlon record, shared his weekend workout.


The Virtual English 12-Stage Road Relays

15:00 - 5 April
On a busy weekend of virtual athletics competitions, the English 12-Stage Road Relays is perhaps the most prestigious.

First held in 1967, this year's official event has been cancelled, but hundreds of British club runners have signed up for the virtual edition. For those taking part, it's not just a substitute competition; it's also a way of raising money for Britain's National Health Service.

Much like the CoronaRun Half Marathon organised by Volare Sports (see below), participants have been instructed to run 5km alone as a time trial between 4-8 April and then upload their activity to Strava and submit it to the official results page. Men's teams have 12 scoring runners while women's teams have six.

After a busy first day of action, Scottish cross-country champion Jamie Crowe has posted the fastest men's clocking so far with a time of 13:59, while Sarah Astin is the fastest woman with 16:25. Tonbridge AC currently leads the men's team competition while Guernsey leads the women's contest, but with three more full days to go before the deadline, expect many changes to the leader board.

The individual and team results are online, while this site has produced a graphic representation of the team standings.


The Stay At Home Athletics Grand Prix

13:40 - 5 April
With virtual athletics competitions on the rise, Roster Athletics has created the 'Stay At Home Athletics Grand Prix'.

It comprises a '100m' sprint (well, a 20x5m shuttle run), a high-knees run, sit-ups, a one-mile run, wall sit, paper towel javelin, push-ups, shot put, jump & reach, standing long jump, and standing triple jump.

Some top athletes, including 2011 world pole vault champion Pawel Wojciechowski, have already signed up. Download the Roster app to follow the competition in full, but here's a snippet:


The inaugural virtual CoronaRun

11:40 - 5 April
Management company Volare Sports set up a virtual competition yesterday for their group of Kenyan athletes.

They were instructed to run a half marathon - completely alone, of course - and to then share their recorded effort.

40-year-old Edwin Kirwa recorded the fastest time among the men, clocking 1:01:52. Fancy Chemutai, the fourth-fastest performer in history, was the top woman with a run of 1:10:05.


How the pandemic is affecting contract negotiations for professional athletes

11:20 - 5 April
Athlete representative Stephen Haas recently appeared on the Ryan Fenton & Alex Lohr Podcast to talk about how major brands have had to change their approach to professional contracts.


Saturday 4 April


A new use for sports venues

23:30 - 4 April
The grounds of Brazil's Maracana Stadium, which staged the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in 2016, are being used as the site of a new field hospital that will host patients carrying the coronavirus.

Reuters reports:

The facility, built in the car park surrounding the 80,000 capacity stadium, will have 400 beds and be one of eight temporary facilities set up across Rio de Janeiro state to help deal with an expected influx of coronavirus patients.

It is one of several sporting venues to be repurposed in a bid to help fight the coronavirus.

The athletes' village used for the 2019 Pan-American Games in Peru is being converted into a coronavirus medical facility, while the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, the athletics venue for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is set to be converted into a quarantine facility. 




World Athletics Baking Tour, anyone?

20:25 - 4 April
Can't lie, we're kind of tempted...


Heptathletes rushing in

19:45 - 4 April
Combined eventers are renowned for their camaraderie, so lock-down is no barrier to this international bunch of heptathletes - including world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam - who put together this #dontrushchallenge video:

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Had to get involved 🤷🏽‍♀️😝@niamhemerson @anoukvetter @george_ahhh @solene.ndama @ivona.dadic @thiam_nafi @sulekadrianna_heptathlon @_charihawkins @laura_ikauniece @caro.schaefer

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Masks for everyone

15:35 - 4 April
Czech hammer record-holder Katerina Safrankova has made use of her new-found spare time by sewing masks for anyone who needs them in her hometown of Kolín.

She packages up each mask and attaches them to a sign stuck to her garage door saying 'roušky všem' (masks for everyone).


Solomon still trying to process Olympic postponement

14:15 - 4 April
Australian 400m sprinter Steve Solomon, who reached the Olympic final as a teenager in 2012, had enjoyed a solid start to this year, recording early-season victories of 45.65 and a world-leading 45.37.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, he gives an insight into the mind of an athlete as they come to grips with the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for 12 months.

Steven Solomon

"The fact the Games are still going and not cancelled brings me a lot of joy," he said. "But there is certainly that element of how do we re-plan what was a meticulously planned-out campaign towards the Tokyo Olympics going ahead this year.

"There is so much in the build-up towards it that I am still processing and actively trying to articulate because I believe it is ­important to do so and share it."

Full article



Previous updates:
20-22 March
23-25 March
26-28 March
29-31 March
1-3 April