Coping with Covid-19 – sporting stars adapt to lockdown

INTERNATIONAL modern pentathlete Olivia Green has been forced to improvise to maintain a training regime during lockdown.

The 20-year-old from Lydgate, unable to train in the pool, has taken to the water with swims in the River Avon near the centre of Bath and close to the famous weir.Aspiring Olympian Jessica Fullalove has transformed the dining room at her family home into a gym to keep in shape, former Oldham Athletic manager Pete Wild has been getting his fix of football watching the game in Belarus while rugby league star Marc Sneyd has a new addition to his family.

This is what has been happening local sporting stars as they adapt to a new way of life in lockdown.

DURING lockdown, Olivia decided to stay in Bath which is the base for Team GB’s modern pentathletes.

Olivia explained it was influenced by some of the other athletes remaining and they are now able to go out running together – before it was solo.

It has been a challenge for Olivia to maintain a training schedule for her multi-faceted sport.

While running has been largely unaffected, it has not been the case in the other disciplines.

Unable to use a swimming pool, Olivia has been donning a wetsuit for swims in the river.

Olivia has also set up a makeshift shooting range on her back garden where she practises.

However, fencing and horse riding have been off limits.

Olivia also been cycling to keep in shape and, without any gym equipment in her home, has been improvising with household objects.

The English Institute of Sport (EIS) has also been holding core workouts through the Zoom platform while she has a fitness programme to follow.

“It was easier to stay in Bath, especially as I also had university work and exams to do,” explained Olivia who is studying for a BSc in sport and exercise science.

Olivia is resigned to missing out on what ought to have been a huge year.

She was due to make her senior World Cup debut in May at an event used by many nations as a qualifier for the Olympic Games. Due to the strength of Team GB’s modern pentathlon team, Olivia had little chance of making it to Tokyo.

Olivia, in her final year of her age category, was set to compete in the junior European and World Championships – she had been hoping to medal in both events.

“It is pretty unheard of somebody aged 20 being selected for the Olympics. As you have five sports to master you don’t usually have the experience to compete at Olympic level until you are mid to late 20s,” she explained.

International swimmer Jessica has had to put her retirement plans on hold for 12 months in pursuit of her dream of competing at the Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old, who has appeared in the last two Commonwealth Games for England and in the 2019 World Championships for Team GB, had planned to be in Tokyo – assuming she had been successful in the Olympic trials – before bowing out of the swimming at the biggest event on the planet.

It is almost three months since former Oldham Hulme Grammar School student Jessica last swam, the longest she has ever been out of the pool.

Jessica, who is based in Bath with all the other elite swimmers, has moved back home to Royton, where the dining room at the family home has been transformed into a makeshift gym which includes a bike and chin-up bar attached to the door frame.

The 100-metre backstroke specialist admitted it has been difficult adjusting to a new way of life, but she has received support from the elite performance coaches and staff.

Jessica, who began at Royton Swimming Club aged seven, said: “Every week I am given a plan which includes swimming, gym, pilates, yoga etc and everything is planned to the last minute.

“To go from that routine and structure to having nothing was difficult and it can hard to motivate yourself working on your own.”

Jessica added fitness classes have been held on the Zoom platform which has enabled her to stay in contact with other swimmers.

She speaks to her coach weekly and her physical and mental wellbeing is closely monitored which has proved helpful.

Jessica, who also swam for Oldham Aquatics and City of Manchester, added her training had been ramped up prior to lockdown.

She explained: “My coach called it the Olympic shift which began in August/September.

“Everything was done faster and quicker and geared to the Olympics.

“With the Olympics postponed for 12 months, I will have to start the process again later this year, but will be better prepared having already gone through it.”

Jessica will be aiming to win selection in the 100m backstroke.

She is third in the rankings, adding there are only hundredths of a second separating the top four so selection will be on a knife edge.

Jessica, a qualified swimming teacher, has several ideas for a future career once the retires, hopefully after the rearranged Olympics.

FORMER Oldham Athletic manager Pete Wild is also readjusting to a completely different way of life.

“It has been weird, but it has made me realise how much time football takes and how it rules my life,” explained the 35-year-old who was raised in Denshaw who now manages National League side FC Halifax Town.

“Football has engrossed my life, but there are more important things and lockdown has put that into perspective.

“I have been able to spend more time with my family and been there when my four-year-old son Oliver began riding his bike and began preparing to start school.

“My garden is immaculate and also has never looked better.”

Pete added it was strange also not having mainstream football on television, adding he resorted to watching the weekly highlights show from the Belarus Premier League which continued playing.

Though football has been in lockdown, Pete added that as manager he still has work to do.

He has been analysing his first full season as a manager and what he can do better in 2020-21, adding the job is the “start of my apprenticeship”.

FC Halifax Town, with one of the lowest budgets in the National League, have punched well above their weight.

Whereas many opponents are full time, some with higher budgets than League clubs, FC Halifax remain a part-time ‘hybrid’ club with players training three mornings each week.

After finishing 16th last season, they have been in the top three and play-off places for most of the campaign, aiming to get back into the Football League for the first time since 2002.

That club folded and reformed as FC Halifax Town in 2008 and during the last 12 years has climbed back through the divisions to have a genuine shot at getting back to the League.

“It would be disappointing to have that pulled from beneath us, but obviously there are a lot tougher things happening,” he said.

Pete, who used to play and coach at Springhead, has been impressed by the standard in the National League and there is little difference between it and League Two.

“My respect for the National League has increased 10-fold and teams going up generally do well in League Two,” he said.

LOCKDOWN has provided furloughed rugby league star Marc Sneyd with quality family time.

The break coincided with the birth of his daughter Phoenix who is two months old while the former Waterhead Warriors player and wife Sabrina also have two-year-old son Maximus.

“There has not been much of a silver lining to this cloud but, if there is one, I have landed on it with the new born at home,” explained the 29-year-old, who is a scrum-half, stand-off or full-back with Hull FC.

Marc, a Challenge Cup winner in 2016 and 2017 when he won the man-of-the-match Lance Todd Trophy each time, is coming to terms with life without rugby.

He said: “It was strange, but lots of others are in the same boat with their lives disrupted.

“I don’t have a gym or any weights at home so cannot do strength and conditioning.

“I have been running and became bored with that so bought a road bike. I have never been big on bikes but have been enjoying rides as long as 30K.”

Marc, who has also been doing jobs around his home in Brough, believes it will be tougher for rugby players returning after a lengthy lay-off given the physicality of their sport.

He continued: “It is going to take time to get back into shape.

“If we went straight into games without proper gym and conditioning work, we would get a huge number of injuries.”

Marc began his rugby at Oldham St Annes and Waterhead, became a pro at Salford Red Devils and appeared for Castleford Tigers before signing for Hull FC in 2015.

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