A lone jogger in Paris (© AFP/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 12 April
If you hope to soon run again through the world's streets..
16:30 - 12 April
Quédate en casa - stay home.
That's this video invitation from members of the Equipo Porvenir 2020 of the Colombian Correcaminos (Roadrunners).
Watch it below - 63 seconds packed with plenty of rising star power.
Bolt helps spread the word about Jamaica Together We Stand Telethon
12:15 - 12 April
The sprint legend is spreading the word about tonight's Jamaica Together We Stand Telethon to raise money to battle COVID-19 on the Caribbean island. The telethon airs live on TVJ from 5:05-6:30pm local time this evening. There will also be a virtual fund-raising concert from 3-9pm local.
To help, you can make a direct donation or buy some of the merchandise on offer at japromise.org/jatogetherwestand.
Endorsement - Telethon Jamaica - Together We Stand— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) April 11, 2020
We need you.
Go to https://t.co/OFvIsteBbK to donate or call;
+44 0808 189 6147#JaTogetherWeStand @Babsy_grange pic.twitter.com/UkvmET0j7n
Remembering the coaching 'lifers', teachers who make people
10:10 - 12 April
This New York Times story addresses full-time high school baseball and lacrosse coaches in United States, but it speaks more broadly to the current situation that coaches in general face, those who usually had several jobs to perform each day and now essentially have none.
Their lives are fairly simple to understand. Bankers make money. Lawyers make arguments. Novelists make stories. Coaches — teachers, too — make people, and without all those practices and games that were supposed to unfold over the next couple months, it doesn’t feel like they are making much of anything right now.
“The hardest thing is giving up the relationships you build and what you give the girls, the confidence,” said Kathy Jenkins, who has been teaching and coaching at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, in Alexandria, Va., since 1971. “I keep telling myself thank God I didn’t decide to retire after this year.”
"I'm playing the whole game in my head." For scholastic coaching "lifers,'' the pandemic has left a big void. https://t.co/IcZdNF70wX— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) April 10, 2020
For Korir, Boston Marathon postponement a blessing in disguise
09:45 - 12 April
At 37, Wesley Korir is hoping to reprise his 2012 victory at the Boston Marathon. It's move this year from April to September due to the coronavirus is giving him five extra months to completely mend from an injury he sustained at the race last year.
Speaking Kenya's Star, the former national assemblyman said:
“My target is to run in Boston this year after the postponement of the event from April to September due to coronavirus. I am optimistic that my injury would have completed healed by then."
Saturday 11 April
Perspective from Lavillenie
17:35 - 11 April
"Yes, we're going to lose money," says the 2012 Olympic champion in this article with L'Equipe. "But don't forget that some people are losing loved ones."
Meanwhile, his garden vaulting is still going well. The former world record-holder scaled 5.70m today.
Hadadi on the mend
15:45 - 11 April
Iran's 2012 Olympic discus silver medallist Ehsan Hadai, who tested positive for the coronavirus late last month, is well on his way to making a full recovery.
"Thank God, I have gone through the difficult period and have now recovered," he said.
View this post on Instagram
نایب قهرمان پرتاب دیسک المپیک 2012 لندن بار دیگر و اینبار در عرصهای متفاوت به پیروزی رسید و پس از 10 روز دست و پنجه نرم کردن با ویروس کرونا توانست این بیماری خطرناک را به زانو درآورد و در این میدان هم سربلند باشد. احسان درباره روزهای سخت مبارزه با کرونا گفت: خدا را شکر روزهای سخت را پشت سر گذاشتهام و بهبودیام را به دست آوردم. ▫️احسان حدادی در گفتوگو با سایت فدراسیون دو و میدانی اظهار داشت: « روزهای نخست سال نو بود که متوجه شدم حال مساعدی ندارم و آنچه دچار آن شدهام، فراتر ازیک سرماخوردگی عادی است. درست در همان روز در مصاحبه با یکی ازخبرنگاران این موضوع را عنوان نمودم. با شروع علائم بلافاصله سرپرست فدراسیون و دکتر اشکان اردیبهشت رییس کمیته پزشکی فدراسیون با من تماس گرفتند و مراحل درمان من به همراهی دکتر اردیبهشت جهت نمونه گیری و تست کرونا انجام شد. سی تی اسکن ریه و آزمایشهای لازم و همچنین ویزیت متخصص عفونی توسط دکتر صالحی انجام و ادامه یافت و با تشخیص کرونا در منزل قرنطینه و درمان آغاز شد. جناب آقای مبینی هر روز پیگیر حالم بودند که از ایشان و پیگیری های مکرر دکتر اردیبهشت تشکر میکنم. همینطور از مساعدتهای ویژه فدراسیون پزشکی ورزشی و دانشگاه علوم پزشکی تهران در طی دوره درمان تشکر ویژه دارم.»
Pittman fuelled for a busy weekend
13:30 - 11 April
Two-time world 400m hurdles champion Jana Pittman has swapped her spikes for a stethoscope and is currently working as a junior doctor at Blacktown Hospital on the outskirts of Sydney.
She is working three of the four days during the Easter weekend, but the locals have delivered Easter eggs and dinner to the hospital staff in recent days.
Friday 10 April
Under lockdown, Lagat misses most her teammates and the ability to challenge herself
18:40 - 10 April
Like many athletes stuck in lockdown at the moment, Violah Lagat, 2016 Olympian in the 1500m and younger sister to Kenyan-US middle distance legend Bernard, says what she's missing most at the is the inability to workout with her training partners.
"I am not able to train with my teammates and that makes it really hard, especially having to do workouts on my own," the 31-year-old said.
"Being able to train with my teammates means a lot to me because I get to gauge myself in training and they also help push me beyond my comfort zone."
And, the ability to put on display the fruit of her labours.
"All of my races have been cancelled due to the spread of the virus, so I don't get the opportunity to show all the work that I have done and I also don't get the opportunity to challenge myself.
"Yes, I still receive training program from my coach, but I just can't work with him on a one on one basis. Staying at home, keeping the distance from one another is the message that many of us are adhering to and this is what we need to continue doing, so that authorities have a fighting chance to deal with the global pandemic."
But, she said, goals are still there.
"The morale and motivation is still there. Nothing has changed for me because I know this is going to pass and when the time is right, I will be ready to compete."
Looking ahead, Drouin offers hope and perspective
18:00 - 10 April
Derek Drouin is one of the most decorated high jumpers of the past decade: bronze at the 2012 Olympics and gold in 2016, bronze at the 2013 World Championships and gold in 2015, Commonwealth gold in 2014 and Pan Am Games gold in 2015. If anyone can offer a bit of perspective at the moment, it's the 30-year-old Canadian whose road to the the Olympic title four years ago was riddled with injuries and pull-outs.
Writing for Unsinkable, Drouin says:
The thing I find most useful in such situations is to simply accept my reality. Rather than denying anything was wrong, I sat down with my support team, we scratched out our original plans and together we found an alternate route that would lead me to Rio.
If I had continued down a tumultuous road, littered with caution signs and red flags pretending everything was fine eventually I would have hit a roadblock and been forced to turn right back around, and I probably would have been a whole lot worse for wear.
Regardless of your profession or place in life, we all have goals and we all have milestones we would like to reach. It would be foolish and irrational to try to march on through this pandemic as if nothing had happened at all. Adjustments to everybody’s daily life need to be made and every single person has been affected in some way or another by COVID-19. For me, my goal is to compete at the Tokyo Olympics — that hasn’t changed but my path to get there certainly has. My GPS says my Estimated Time of Arrival is almost a full 365 days later than originally planned. That’s a destination that difficult to see through this fog and that’s okay, because right now I’m focused on winning today.
We interrupt this COVID-19 news stream for a competition report
17:40 - 10 April
In what was likely one of just a handful of athletics competitions to take place on the planet today (10), Sweden's Simon Pettersson threw 66.93m to take top honours at a throws meeting in Växjö.
The 26-year-old, a finalist at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, produced a solid series, opening with a 64.44m effort in the first round, following with throws of 62.11m and 64.06m in rounds two and three. With momentum on his side, he improved to 65.02m and 65.22m before coming up just short of the 67-metre line with his final throw which moves him up to No. 3 on the 2020 world list.
It was also a big career best for Pettersson, whose previous best was 66.39m set last year, also in Växjö.
Jakob Gardenkrans was a distant second with 59.29m.
Fanny Roos won the women's event, throwing 59.76m.
The report is also here.
Trost on the lockdown, connectivity and community
15:50 - 10 April
World indoor bronze medallist Alessia Trost has been in lockdown for since the first week of March, spending her time trying to train, staying connected, and studying. Lots.
She tells Spikes:
How do I pass the time? In the morning I do exercises in my apartment and in the afternoons I study – I joke with friends that it took the coronavirus for me to finally get my degree. I’m in my third year of a degree in food science and technologies and I’ve never studied so much in my life.
And, on the Olympic postponement:
I had mixed feelings when I heard the news. The emotional part of me was clinging to the hope of competitions at the end of the summer to secure Olympic qualification and when they announced that they wouldn’t count I was like, ‘why am I training?’
But the rational part of me knows it was the right decision because we have no doping controls during this period and, when you look at the big picture, we still have one more year to get the standard. It’s plenty of time.
And on community:
Italians love mixing with those around them and it's hurting everyone that we can't do that right now, but this crisis has brought out a different and very powerful sense of community. We may be kept apart, but for the first time in my life, I feel we are all connected.
Eliud Kipchoge, Q&A
13:00 - 10 April
The world record holder in the marathon is in isolation, training alone and taking the time to answer questions from runners and fans on everything ranging from training alone to rewatching his races to his easiest and hardest races. And training tips, too.
How do you stay injury-free with all the mileage that you do?
I am doing strength training all the time. I am with a physio all the time. So when the season is near, I'm not in a hurry to get in shape because I'm training all the time.
Watch the rest, all 12 minutes and 57 second of it.
With his love for running rekindled, Hughes targeting Tokyo 21 double
11:15 - 10 April
Canadian distance runner Matt Hughes thought he lost his love for running. Now, he has so much love he may be splitting it over two events, his better event, the 3000m steeplechase, and the 5000m, in which he recently produced a Tokyo qualifier.
The CBC reports:
A six-time Canadian champion, Hughes had lost the fire to compete, saying the sport and job he loved had become a chore.
"I've realized after a lot of reflection, I fell out of love with running," he wrote in an Instagram post. "I found myself seeking happiness through performances, thinking that running fast or winning a certain race would ultimately make me happy, but I've learned that's not the way it works."
Before the Tokyo Olympics were postponed last month until July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hughes thought this summer's Games – his second and likely last – would be the beginning to "exploring the next chapter in my life."
But in late February, the 30-year-old native of Oshawa, Ont., met the Tokyo qualifying standard of 13 minutes 13.50 seconds in the men's 5,000 metres after a few strong weeks of altitude running in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Thursday 9 April
Felix: 'I'm used to fighting'
17:05 - 9 April
When California's shelter-at-home social distancing ordinances went into effect late last month, where do you suppose Allyson Felix, the most decorated athlete in World Championships and Olympic athletics history, was?
You probably guessed it. Speaking with ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne, Felix confirmed:
"We were out on the track right after the orders came down," Felix recalls. There were only three of them there, and they were well over 6 feet apart. But letting them stay wasn't an option -- not even for one of the most decorated sprinters in history. "After the last rep of our workout, the sheriff came out and kicked us off the track."
So where are she and her training partners now training? On any green space they can find, including one of coach Bobby Kersee's long-time favourites: a grassy median of San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica, putting them on full display for the immediate community.
Just watching the warm-up is exhausting. But with Los Angeles on lockdown, it's also some of the best live entertainment in the neighborhood. Families come out onto the balconies of their apartments to watch, little kids cheering on the runners as they stride up and down 4th Street.
In this wide-reaching ESPN interview and story, Felix discusses training, motherhood, coronavirus disruptions and carrying on at age 34.
"I'm used to fighting," she says. "That's what we've been doing. Now we just continue on. You get your focus and do what you have to do."
Leonard Kipkemoi Bett: current situation 'creates room for innovation of how an athlete is to live and train'
15:40 - 9 April
At 19, Leonard Kipkemoi Bett has already accomplished quite a bit. He won the world U18 steeplechase title, took silver in the event at the World U20 Championships in 2018 and reached the final at the World Athletics Championships last year.
Kenya's current lockdown is forcing him to grow up even faster.
His present situation, he said, has underscored the knowledge he'd already gained about life as a professional athlete. "An athlete can’t stand alone," he says. "A coach, manager, team-mates, physio... It takes a village to lift an athlete."
Government restrictions forced him to leave his training camp near Bomet, and coach John Kimetto, for his home some 35 kilometres away.
"We speak by phone daily and the goal is to make sure that I am doing something constructive in each of workouts every day."
He misses his coach and training partners, and the instant feedback, evaluation and camaraderie that comes with that. But it's also forcing him to explore and even discover other options.
"The current state creates room for innovation of how an athlete is to live and train alone to keep fit without endangering health. This is time to be creative, but also time to be cautious and to pray for people who are suffering, for everyone who is working hard to make peoples' lives better."
Despite growing restrictions, South Sudanese Olympic hopefuls continue training in Maebashi
13:15 - 9 April
Even with the postponement of the Olympic Games, A squad of athletes from South Sudan and their coach have decided to stay on at a temporary training base in Maebashi, Japan, to take advantage of the added time the postponement has given and the facilities that aren't available to them back home.
The team was invited by the Japanese city as part of a local effort to promote peace through sports. They've been in Maebashi since November and will be staying through at least July.
The AFP reports:
"Before I reached Japan, I didn't know what kind of people the Japanese are," said Abraham Majok Matet Guem, 20, who runs the 1500m.
"The love I got here... is more than even what I expected. So I have not missed home so much because I am staying in a very peaceful environment with very loving people. So I was very surprised at that."
The city has raised more than 14 million yen ($128,000) from across Japan through a special taxation scheme and is continuing to raise funds to secure the total 20 million yen needed to keep the team on through July.
Officials were quick to reassure the team they would be welcome to stay until at least July, after the Olympic delay was announced.
Duplantis auctioning Torun WR bib to raise funds for COVID-19 pandemic battle. HURRY - bidding ends at 19:10 (CET) tonight
12:00 - 9 April
Armand Duplantis has put the bibb he wore during the first of his two pole vault world record leaps on the auction block to help raise money for the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duplantis topped 6.17m at the Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland on 8 February, a record that splashed the sport and the 20-year-old Swede's achievement across the world's front pages.
The bibb is on the Swedish site Tradera, with the current bid at 18,000 Swedish Krona, or €1645. Bidding ends at 19:10 tonight.
Berry on the financial toll that postponements have wrought
10:40 - 9 April
In an interview with CNN, US hammer thrower Gwen Berry discusses some of the financial realities that she, and the majority of Olympians, now face after the coronavirus outbreak forced the postponement or cancellation of dozens of events this year.
Like many Americans around the country, Gwen Berry is weighing her financial options.
She is thinking about filing for unemployment, or seeing if she can get a day job, like the one she once held at Dick's Sporting Goods, to help stem the financial tide left behind by the coronavirus.
But unlike Americans, Berry is weighing these options as an Olympic athlete.
"When people think of Olympians, they think of people who have a lot of money, like professional basketball players, or professional baseball players, and it's definitely not the case," Berry told CNN Sport.
"This has literally stopped everything for us. It stops everything relating to our goals, our dreams, our families, and we already get paid nothing anyway. So it's nothing on top of nothing on top of nothing, for this moment that we may not even get anymore."