SUPER fit Rotherham athletes look unlikely to flex their competitive muscles until summer at the earliest as the third national lockdown takes a grip on track and field.
The diet of rest and training over the long months since the pandemic started has left Rotherham Harriers’ senior and junior members in great shape.
All they need now is some serious competition, hopes of which have been scuppered for the foreseeable future.
The pause has meant a step back to square one for officials like Harriers secretary Steve Gaines after a series of false starts.
He said: “It is ironic because with all the lockdowns and the kids not being at school, the athletes are as fit as they’ve ever been. They have had so much time to train yet there are no competitions possible.
“Also, the precautions around Covid and social distancing has resulted in less flu and minor viral infections than we would normally see. It is very frustrating.
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“Before the latest lockdown, I must have designed three or four prototype pilot cross country events and all have failed to get approval because of the rate of infections. It has just been impossible to get anything going.
“We were hoping to get something going in March but the Yorkshire Championships are cancelled, Northern Championships are cancelled, National Championships are cancelled and the latest lockdown, which isn’t reviewed until February 15, I think could take us right through to March.
“I don’t think anything will happen until late March at the earliest, and even that’s risky.”
Harriers had welcomed 60-100 athletes at training nights, all following the appropriate protocols.
An app allows athletes to input their details to a database before attending sessions, allowing the club to track and trace if there are any concerns over Covid.
But as with all grassroots sports, an eventual green light to return to competition depends upon infection rates falling to a level that inspires confidence not just among the powers-that-be but also the athletes themselves.
Steve added: “Everybody is living in hope of the vaccination providing some hope for people to get together but I don’t know where there will be that confidence for people to mix at these events. We will just have to wait and see.
“I think a lot will depend on what happens through this lockdown and how close we get to 50 per cent population vaccination.
“Everybody (in athletics) is hoping something happens but I would be surprised if it is going to be much before June before we get anything in terms of inter-club, league, track and field meetings going. That is just my personal opinion but I remain hopeful.”