Leevale athletes may have no access to local running tracks until September, club chairman Donal Murnane has said.
Athletics clubs from around the country will return to limited activity this Monday, May 18, with training groups confined to a maximum of four persons.
Cork’s Leevale club train on the tartan surface at Cork Institute of Technology and UCC’s Mardyke Arena, but neither track will be reopening this Monday or, indeed, any time soon, meaning Leevale athletes will have to get inventive as to where they conduct their sessions.
“We don't have access to athletics facilities as CIT and UCC remain closed. We have talked to both of the institutions and they are remaining closed for now. Their college year returns in September, so they will, I think, put their facilities in with that,” Murnane told the Irish Examiner.
“We have to find alternative venues, be they public parks or out on the road for the middle-distance athletes. We are looking at places like Tramore Valley Park and Ballincollig Regional Park where we can find a space and go and do a little bit of training. The training will be light. It won't be substantial because we don't actually have any competitions coming up.
“The beauty of athletics is that we can more or less do it anywhere. We can train on grass, we can train on the road. The throwers just need a field where they can throw their implements.”
Having had no option but to train in isolation since the lockdown came into effect in mid-March, one of the big pluses in athletics’ imminent return is that runners, jumpers, and throwers will be able to meet with their coach to work on the technical aspects of their discipline.
“Spending time with their coach is the big thing,” Murnane points out.
“Our coaches haven't met their athletes in up to eight weeks so getting back that coach communication is a positive.”
For Leevale members, Monday's resumption of collective training is exclusive to those aged 17 and over.
“For Phase 1, we will be just working with our junior and senior athletes. There can't be more than three athletes with a coach at any one time, so for security and safety reasons, we are only working with U20 and senior athletes.
“We have up to 750 members. Juveniles would make up 65% of that. The juvenile numbers are so big we just couldn’t deal with three juveniles at a time.
“We are very happy that there is a start of a return. It is a very limited start, but at least it is a start, which is great. It means our senior athletes who had been planning on going to Tokyo are back out there again with their coaches, the likes of Michelle Finn and Alex Wright.”
The Leevale chairman concluded: “All clubs have a webinar with Athletics Ireland next Tuesday to go through the protocols for coaches and administrators. Right now, we have the documents we received on Wednesday which tells us what we have to do, and we've started working on that already. They include having a Covid-19 officer in the club to implement and monitor procedures.”
It will be June 29, at the earliest, before the indoor facilities at Leevale’s High Performance centre in Cork city can reopen.