By Owen Morgan
The Welsh Athletics Championships is the latest major sporting event to fall victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, held at Cardiff’s International Sports Campus in Leckwith, would normally attract hundreds of athletes from all over Wales and further afield.
Although athletics activity has restarted in Wales, the sport’s governing body has decided athletes have not had sufficient time to prepare properly. The Welsh Junior Championships has also been cancelled.
A statement by Welsh Athletics said: “It is with a heavy heart that the track and field committee have made the recommendation that neither the Welsh Junior or Senior Championships take place in 2020.
“Concerns were raised around athlete readiness for a championship competition after such a long period with no facility access throughout Wales.
“Strict restrictions are also still in place within Wales on the permitted size of gathering and this would need to be reflected by a limit to the number of athletes competing at any given competition.
“Whilst this decision has been an incredibly difficult one given the popularity of Welsh Championship events in recent years, it has been taken with the safety of all attending these competitions in mind.”
The championships are the highlight of the Welsh track and field season in Wales, attracting Olympic, World Championship and Commonwealth Games standard athletes, alongside club competitors and rising stars.
Last season’s senior championships saw outstanding performances from the likes of Olympic hopeful sprinter Sam Gordon, who produced a blistering wind-assisted time of 10.08.
Meanwhile T38 Paralympic medallist Olivia Breen broke her own Commonwealth long jump record, which she set at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Although the Welsh Championships have fallen by the wayside, the governing body is working hard to provide some competition for the nation’s athletes.
The statement added: “A number of pilot events will run on the weekend of the 15-16th August, allowing us to ensure that new processes now in place for events are appropriate for all.
“Any learning from these pilot events will inform the guidance that is issued to clubs and competition providers to allow them to safely stage competitions during this time with a tried and tested template for delivery.”
Further details of the pilot events will be released shortly.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Welsh Road Relay Championships have also been cancelled.
Normally held at Pembrey Country Park near Llanelli in September, the relays attract between 400 and 600 entrants from around the country.
A virtual event, similar to those which have already been staged by Welsh Athletics, is being considered.
The British Athletics Championships, which were originally to have been held in Manchester last month, will now be held behind closed doors in the city on September 4th and 5th.
Invitations to athletes, who have achieved the required qualifying standards, are being sent out this month.