HELLO from Florida, where I’m in lockdown. That may sound really nice but it’s not without its challenges.
Most days I’m looking for a beach or a field where I can run as my places of work — the track and the gym — are closed. And, yes, it may be 30C here every day but we’re still in lockdown — even if it is not as severe as the UK yet.
We can go out in pairs and train but anywhere we find, we go back the next day and it has been cordoned off!
I haven’t seen the rest of my training group for so long I’ve started to forget what they look like. Times like these test our character and I realise, compared to many, I have it relatively easy — the stories of heroism from both here and back home are truly inspiring.
I live on my own but I’m pretty happy and like my own space. I stay in touch with friends and speak regularly to my British team-mates Andrew Pozzi and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who are isolating together in Liverpool.
I felt it was important to be around my coach Rana Reider but it was a big call to make (to stay here). Mum was asking me every day: ‘Do you need to come home?’
I know people who have had the virus and recovered but sadly, a dad of one my old school friends passed away from coronavirus in hospital, alone and without his family. I just hope my family back home stay safe and healthy. I worry particularly about my grandma — who’s got underlying health issues — and like many people around the world, I feel like it’s out of my control.
But I keep training in the hope we will still have some kind of season this year. The European and British Championships are pencilled in for August and we will hopefully see a few Diamond League events. We understand there are bigger issues — the world’s health and safety is by far the most important thing — but when you spend a whole year planning for a season that doesn’t look likely to happen, this requires some adjustment. And it takes an emotional toll.
Some might walk away now while others, who had planned for 2020 to be their final year, may not carry on to Tokyo, which will be a shame. If the pandemic does go on longer than feared, many will be forced to look at the financial realities of being able to continue as competition prize money is a vital cog in the athletics wheel.
I don’t struggle for motivation — this is my job and I am committed to it but I would understand it if some athletes felt like saying, ‘Why am I wasting my time?’
It was really hard to keep training for an Olympics this year when the majority of the world was going into lockdown and I’ve seen other athletes say the same. There was just no way any athlete would have made it to the startline 100 per cent ready and the quality of the Games would have been low.
I have concerns with World Athletics suspending qualification for Tokyo until December 1, something which means any of us could go out and set a new world record at an event in late summer and not qualify for the Olympics.
If you compete, it doesn’t count for next year and I don’t agree with it. I’m a bit frustrated as it is another case of athletes not being listened to. But I get that athletes are also worried about doping and a lack of testing this year. Hopefully World Athletics looks again at that but the call to postpone, and then rearrange 2021, was the right one.
In 2022 we will now have the world championships followed by the Commonwealth Games and Europeans. It will be very, very difficult to do two, let alone three, of those. With the Commonwealths in Birmingham, every Brit will be aiming to be there if they can. Let’s hope we get back to normality, safely, on and off the track soon.