Category Archives: Athletics

Training Under lockdown, Italian athletes Aiming To Keep Upbeat and Focused

Since the spread of the deadly New Coronavirus began earlier this year, athletes, like everyone else, have been forced to adjust. First, those things directly related to their athletic pursuits: their schedules, their training, their travel. As the virus continued to spread across the planet, those adjustments moved from the professional to the personal and are now impacting on most aspects of their lives -where and when they can eat and shop, who they can see and who they can’t – just like the rest of us.

With nearly 25,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,809 deaths reported (as at 16 March), Italy is by far the hardest hit country in Europe and was the first (After China) to institute a nationwide quarantine. That came on 9 March, a lockdown that has dramatically restricted movement and further turned normal life on its head.

That’s the context now in which athletes are looking towards the Olympic Games. Conjecture about the future of those Games, scheduled to get underway on 24 July, is feeding the uncertainty, but for now that goal remains as the key driving force for Italian athletes who are trying to keep upbeat even as some scramble to find places to train.

“I’m worried about the national emergency and the lack of races but my mood remains good,” said Davide Re, the national 400m record holder, who, instead of attending an overseas training camp, is currently in Rieti where he is today celebrating his 27th birthday. Restrictions have closed indoor training facilities, but as a national level athlete, he has been given permission to train on an outdoor track.

“I’m sorry to celebrate my birthday in quarantine, without the classic pastarelle at the camp,” he said. “But training is good. Luckily, being a national athlete I have the opportunity to go to the field so my routine hasn’t changed too much. We can’t use the gym, of course, but we can use the weights on the track outside.”

Elena Vallortigara
photo credit: AlexandreDL / CC BY-SA (

For Vallortigara, a time for focus, and reflection

From Siena, high jumper Elena Vallortigara reports that for her, not too much has changed.

“Last week I managed to train every day on my track except Tuesday, but I made up for that on a football pitch. If the facility remains open, it changes little, because I can jump and train on the track.

Not knowing when the season will resume, Vallortigara said, is the more difficult uncertainty to manage.

Since the date of her next competition is up in the air, Vallortigara said, “the best thing is to continue my general conditioning work that I would have done in this period anyway, and then finalise my plans when there will be more specific news – even on the Olympic Games. Making many plans on what may or may not be is really a waste of energy right now.”

Re concurred. “I hope we’ll know something soon about the season to figure out how to regulate our training.”

An even greater difficulty, Vallortigara said, “is to maintain a positive, and even a little detached attitude. I feel that this feeling of general panic and insecurity has an impact on me, as on everyone. I’m fortunate to be able to go to the field and maintain at least some normalcy in my days.

“But the most important problem is people’s health: from my side, I try to remain focused on the target, because I think this can help me, hoping normality may come back soon. I also hope everyone can come back to their usual lives as soon as possible, but in the meantime, with increased awareness. This period should also be one for everybody to reflect.”

Yeman Crippa
photo credit: World Athletics

Crippa assists national campaign

Meanwhile, national 10,000m record holder Yeman Crippa continues his drive towards Tokyo from his home base in Trento.

“The situation is more difficult and I have to be much more careful, and always have my self-declaration with me,” he said, referring to a state-mandated document which allows him to leave his home.

“For a while I won’t be on the track and in the gym, but for bicycle and road training there isn’t a problem. But it’s not a good situation because races and training camps have been cancelled. Tomorrow I was supposed to go to the United States.

“It’s getting hard but I won’t give up. I know it will work out so my preparation for Tokyo continues, albeit with some more obstacles. It would have been worse if we hadn’t been able to train at all.”

Like the others, he’s taking the current health risks and national decrees very seriously. Crippa was among the leading figures involved in the #DistantiMaUniti campaign set up by the Italian Ministry for Sport and Youth Policies whose aim was to convince young people to stay at home during this critical period.

Bringing their work home

Plenty of athletes are bringing their work home as best as they can. Like this unidentified high jumper in Milan.

So too are shot putter Leonardo Fabbri and hurdler Luminosa Bogliolo.

After a strong indoor campaign capped by a 21.59m national indoor record, Fabbri is back at work at his home in Florence.

“We decided to disconnect for a few days after the commitments of the indoor season, where I competed a lot. But now my training continues at home.” He’s hoping to return to his regular training base in Bologna two weeks from now.

Bogliolo, last year’s World University Games 100m hurdles champion, brought her work into her living room in the northwestern town of Alassio, located midway between Genoa and San Remo.

“Yes, I have all the tools in my living room, so when I’m not on the field I can train on treadmills, stationary bikes and resistance bands,” she said. But she too is finding the uncertainty of competitions the most difficult aspect to adjust to.

“The situation continues to change. Mentally I want to believe that we will compete again, but you cannot know. My coaches are changing the schedules a bit, but we’re working as if we’ll have a regular outdoor season.

“I’m trying not to give up and stay focused even if what is happening in Italy and around the world is truly an incredible situation.”

Nazareno Orlandi (FIDAL) and Bob Ramsak for World Athletics


After the seventh and final meeting of the 2020 World Athletics Indoor Tour brought the series to a close for another year, 11 athletes have booked their place at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Nanjing 2021.

Although the World Athletics Indoor Championships had to be postponed until 2021, World Athletics can confirm that all 11 World Athletics Indoor Tour winners from 2020 – along with last year’s 11 winners – will be awarded wild cards to next year’s championships.

It means several national teams for next year’s World Indoor Championships will be boosted by the success of their athletes on the World Indoor Tour. Usually only two athletes per nation per discipline are allowed to enter the World Indoor Championships, but a wild card entry allows for a third athlete to compete. The final decision about entering an individual athlete for the World Indoor Championships, as always, rests with the athlete’s national federation.

In addition, each of those 11 athletes receives a winner-takes-all US$20,000 bonus.

©World Athletics

The individual event winners of this year’s World Athletics Indoor Tour are:

60m – Ronnie Baker (USA)
800m – Collins Kipruto (KEN)
3000m – Getnet Wale (ETH)
Pole vault – Armand Duplantis (SWE)
Triple jump – Hugues Fabrice Zango (BUR)
Shot put – Filip Mihaljevic (CRO)

400m – Justyna Swiety-Ersetic (POL)
1500m – Gudaf Tsegay (ETH)
60m hurdles – Christina Clemons (USA)
High jump – Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR)
Long jump – Maryna Bekh-Romanchukh (UKR)

The non-scoring disciplines in this year’s World Athletics Indoor Tour will become the 11 scoring disciplines for next year.

Event winners on the 2021 and 2022 World Athletics Indoor Tour will be awarded wild cards for the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 2022.

World Athletics


When Ababel Yeshaneh crossed the finish line at the Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon on Friday morning (21) in a world record of 1:04:31, she made a piece of athletics history.

The 28-year-old became the first Ethiopian woman to set an outright world record in a road event.

Ethiopian women have broken numerous world records on the track, indoors and outdoors, and Netsanet Gudeta set a women-only world record when winning at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships. But Yeshaneh is the first to jump to the top of a world all-time list in a record-eligible road event.

Her performance heralds something of a breakthrough for the East African nation. Ethiopia has long been a powerhouse in distance running, but Kenya has generally led the way on the roads with the likes of Mary Keitany, Florence Kiplagat, Peres Jepchirchir and Joyciline Jepkosgei all having improved the half marathon world record in the past decade. Brigid Kosgei, meanwhile, recently broke the long-standing marathon world record with her 2:14:04 run in Chicago.

Ethiopia has now produced the fastest half marathon women in history – in both mixed races and women-only events. But it has been a long road of gradual improvements to get to this point.

At the end of the last millennium, the Ethiopian record belonged to Derartu Tulu at 1:08:26, almost two minutes shy of the world record at that time. Berhane Adere improved it to 1:08:17 in 2001, but it was still shy of breaking into the top 10 on the world all-time list.

It wasn’t until 2009 that an Ethiopian woman broke 68 minutes – in fact, three managed it within the same race as Dire Tune (1:07:18), Asselefech Mergia (1:07:48) and Abebu Gelan (1:07:57) all set PBs at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon.

Ababel Yeshaneh , Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon,
Ababel Yeshaneh wins Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon,
© Giancarlo Colombo / organisers

The national record underwent several revisions over the next decade, but so too did the world record. As Ethiopia’s best started to close in on 67 minutes, Kenya’s leading women were breaking 66. And by the time Ethiopia joined the sub-66-minute club in 2018, courtesy of Yeshaneh, the world record had been reduced to 1:04:51.

It has been a similar story in the marathon. Although there haven’t been as many world records at that distance over the past two decades, Ethiopia has trailed Kenya on the world all-time list and in terms of depth. But they’re improving in that regard too and Ethiopia now has 22 women with sub-2:20 PBs – more than any other nation.

Given the rising standard of distance running worldwide, it may not be long before Yeshaneh’s world record is broken again. But for now she can revel in the fact that she is the fastest woman in history over 13.1 miles.

• Report: Yeshaneh breaks half marathon world record in Ras Al Khaimah


The inaugural World Athletics Continental Tour, a series of leading international one-day meetings around the globe, kicks off this weekend with back-to-back meetings in Sydney and Auckland.

The Tour, which will span six continents over the next seven months, is designed to provide athletes with more high calibre competitive opportunities to earn prize money and world ranking points while reaching fans in nearly every corner of the world.

The Tour will be divided into three levels – Gold, Silver and Bronze – whose status will be determined by the quality of competition and prize money on offer.

© Jean-Pierre Durand

World Athletics is investing in the Gold level meetings, which will each offer $US200,000 in prize money. Area associations will be responsible for managing the Silver ($US75,000 prize money) and Bronze level competitions ($US25,000).

Saturday’s Sydney Track Classic, a popular fixture in Oceania dating back to the 1990s, will launch the Tour and will feature athletes from 12 countries.

Some of Australia’s biggest stars are expected to compete in this Bronze level event at Sydney Olympic Park, including middle distance national record holders Linden Hall and Joe Deng, and rising high jump stars Eleanor Patterson and Nicola McDermott, who both cleared the Olympic qualifying standard of 1.96m in Canberra last week. Brandon Starc, the 2018 Diamond League winner and Oceania high jump record holder at 2.36m, is also on the bill. Pan American hammer champion Gwen Berry of the USA leads the international contingent.

The Sydney Track Classic will be streamed live on Athletics Australia’s YouTube channel.

The Tour continues on Sunday with the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland, another Bronze event, which will feature a slew of New Zealand’s brightest athletics stars, shot putters Tom Walsh, the 2017 world champion, and Valerie Adams, the two-time Olympic and four-time world champion, among them. Adams returned to action in January after taking a season off for maternity leave and has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Nick Willis, a world and Olympic 1500m medallist, is also on the slate.

Athletics New Zealand reports that the meeting will feature some of the strongest fields it has ever assembled, and that has prompted Sky Sport New Zealand to broadcast the meeting live on television and through its YouTube channel (Sky Sport Next).

© Jean-Pierre Durand

This weekend’s competitions are among more than 50 meetings that are currently included in the 2020 calendar, with more to be announced over the next several weeks.

“The Continental Tour is something really close to my heart,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, after meeting some of the athletes who will compete in Sydney. “There just aren’t that many one-day meetings around anymore so we wanted to create more opportunities for the athletes to compete, more opportunities to compete at a whole range of distances and we also want to create some more opportunities for athletes to win prize money. It’s a really important way to breathe more life into the one-day circuit.”

After a stop next month in Brisbane for the first Silver level meeting, the Tour will move to the Caribbean nation of Granada on 4 April and to the USA on 24 April for the 111th edition of the Drake Relays. Hiroshima will host the first Asian stop on the Tour on 29 April. The following week, the Tour will reach Africa where Nairobi will host the first of 10 Gold level meetings on 2 May.

Tour calendar


Joshua Cheptegei has turned his attention to winning his maiden title at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia next month after bursting through the 13-minute barrier to improve the world 5km record in Monaco last weekend.

“This is a great confidence boost in my current form and my ability on the road,” said the 23-year-old Ugandan, who will be making his debut over the half marathon distance when he lines up in the Polish city in just under six weeks.


“Coming off a very successful 2019 it has been the perfect start to his season to show that his approach is already paying off,” his manager, Jurrie van der Velden, said. “He is very excited to see what the World Championships has in store.”

It took little time for Cheptegei to pick up in 2020 where he left off in 2019.

In a largely solo performance at Sunday morning’s Monaco Run 5km, Cheptegei shattered the world record over the distance, clocking 12:51* to clip a whopping 27 seconds from the previous mark of 13:18 set by Kenyan rival Rhonex Kipruto.

Cheptegei’s command performance not only eclipsed Kipruto’s pending world record and the most recently ratified record of 13:22, set by Robert Keter in Lille on 9 November, but also bettered the fastest time ever recorded for the distance, Sammy Kipketer’s 13:00 clocking in Carlsbad, USA, in 2000, well before the 5km became an official world record event in November 2017.

“I had sub-13 minutes in my mind so when my legs felt good during the race I decided to really go for it,” Cheptegei said. “To take this many seconds off the record makes me very happy and is a great first test for me in an important season.”

Making his record-breaking intentions clear, Cheptegei blitzed through the first kilometre in 2:31, before settling into a rhythm that produced 2:35, 2:36 and 2:35 subsequent kilometres. He sealed the record with a closing 2:32 kilometre. But the end result was by no means his limit, he believes.

“He thinks he can still improve on this world record,” Van der Velden, said. “There are some areas that allow for gains but he thinks that this world record has the chance to stand for a while.”

Sunday’s world record run was Cheptegei’s second in just 11 weeks.

On 1 December, Cheptegei smashed the world record for 10km, clocking 26:38* at the 10K Valencia Trinidad Alfonso. While the record was short-lived – Kipruto broke it six weeks later on a different course in the same Spanish city – the performance nonetheless capped one of the most sensational all-around distance running seasons in recent years.

That record run came less than two months after he cruised to the world 10,000m title in Doha where he clocked 26:48.36, the fastest in the world last year. And that about seven months after he led a Ugandan 1-2 finish at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, clocking 31:40 over a notoriously difficult 10.24km course.

After his eagerly-anticipated appearance in Gdynia, Cheptegei will then focus his attention on the Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo on 31 July where he’s expected to face defending champion Mo Farah, and quite likely, Kipruto, whom he had defeated in a thrilling battle in Doha last year.

Joshua Cheptegei, World Half Marathon Championships Gdynia, IAAF, © Etienne Fiacre
Joshua Cheptegei,
© Etienne Fiacre

– Cheptegei on his 2020 aspirations: ‘I want to go and make history’ (feature published today, 18 February)
– 5km world record report

Joshua Cheptegei – Personal bests:
1500m: 3:37.82 (2016)
3000m: 7:33.26 (2019)
Two Miles: 8:07.54 (2019)
5000m: 12:57.41 (2019)
10,000m: 26:48.36 (2019)
5km: 12:51 (2020) WR*
10km: 26:38 (2019)
15km: 41:05 (2018)
10km: 45:15 (2018)

5km world record progression:
12:51* – Joshua Cheptegei (UGA), Monaco, 16 Feb 2020
13:18* – Rhonex Kipruto (KEN), Valencia, 12 Jan 2020
13:22 – Robert Keter (KEN), Lille, 09 Nov 2019
13:29 – Edward Cheserek (KEN) Carlsbad, 06 Apr 2019
13:29 – Julien Wanders (SUI) Monaco, 17 Feb 2019
13:30 – Benard Kibet Lagat (KEN) Prague, 08 Sep 2018

*pending ratification

AHEAD TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES: Delta State Programme On Track Says Solomon Ogba

Delta State determination to ensure that her athletes made podium appearances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is on track according to Solomon Ogba the Chairman of Delta State Athletics.

Ogba’s confidence is buoyed by the performance of Raymond Ekevwo in the 60m Indoor over the weekend.

Ekevwo won the race in 6.53 sec, the fastest time in the NCAA this year.

Ogba said the aim of the Delta State Olympics Program is to ensure that Nigeria made podium appearance at the games,

“The task of ensuring that Nigeria succeeds in Tokyo is not what the Nigerian Olympics Committee (NOC) and the Sports Ministry can do alone, every state, clubs and other stakeholders in sports must work with the two organizations so that we can make podium appearances at the games”.

Blessing Okagbare
photo credit: Bromiskelly

Others athletes in Delta Olympics Program are Blessing Okagbare, Ese Brume, Divine Oduduru and others.

Ogba is optimistic that Team Nigeria will succeed in Tokyo,

“Our performances in Tokyo will be better than our performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Delta State is determined to help our athletes do Nigeria proud. We have identified athletes that have the potentials to make podium appearance and we have started paying training grants since 2018, those that needed new coaches and training camp we have assisted them. We even employed phycologists and nutritionists for some of them, so I am confident that our athletes will win medals in Tokyo”.

Ogba also congratulated Tobi Amusan on her successful performance over the weekend.

ACCESS BANK LAGOS CITY MARATHON: ValueJet joins the marathon family as Expo begins on Monday

The Central Car Park of the Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere promises to be a beehive of activity from Monday 27th of January, 2020 as the Expo for the 2020 edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon begins.

Similarly, over the weekend in faraway Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Project Consultant for the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Bukola Olopade and Head of Business and Programme, ValueJet, Temitope Ajibola met during the 2020 Dubai Marathon.

At the end of their meeting, the two brands agreed to enter into a partnership.

In a statement released by Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Head of Communications and Media Olukayode Thomas, Ajibola said he is highly impressed by the phenomenal rise of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to a global brand within five years and is looking forward to an enduring relationship between the two brands.

Thomas revealed that ValueJet and other sponsors and partners of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon will be at the Marathon Expo which begins on Monday.

Thomas urged runners who have registered for either the full marathon or the 10km fun run to pick up their running kits at the Expo.

He also urged those that have not registered for the 2020 race to do so during the Expo as officials of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon will gladly register interested runners.

Teslim Balogun Stadium, 2020 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Bukola Olopade,

“The 2020 Marathon Expo will be fun. Apart from intending runners picking up their kits, it will be an entertaining and fun place to be. One of the best DJs in Lagos State, DJ Kelvinator will be on the ground from 9.00 am till 6.00 pm to entertain visitors at the Expo. Our sponsors and partners have concluded to give out gifts and products to visitors and runners after they answer simple questions. Runners and visitors will equally have the opportunity to interact with our celebrity runners and elite runners from Nigeria and other parts of the world’’ said Thomas.