By Owen Morgan
A small group of Welsh athletes have put their Olympic and Paralympic dreams well and truly back on track following months of improvised training routines.
A selection of elite throwers and sprinters took part in a controlled outdoor session at Cardiff Metropolitan University’s outdoor track on Tuesday as the sport takes the first tentative steps back to normality.
Sprinters like Welsh 100m champion Sam Gordon and multiple Paralympic and world champion thrower Aled Davies, were amongst those taking part after the list of athletes and new coronavirus safety protocols were signed off by Sport Wales and the Welsh Government.
Power athletes were chosen as the first tranche of athletes to return to action because their training had been disrupted more by lockdown than other competitors, such as endurance runners.
Davies has been training using a throwing cage in his back garden while some sprinters have been using roads and grass sports pitches to train.
Gordon, who has targeted selection for the Tokyo Olympics, which will now take place next summer, was delighted to return to more familiar training surroundings.
“It was great get back on track but as there weren’t many of us there it just a shame that not everyone can be there at the moment. It’ll be great once we great through this initial stage so that everyone can get back to training.”
Each athlete was health screened in advance and a qualified Covid-19 warden was on site as part of the requirements to allow the session to go ahead.
National coach Chris Jones said: “Working closely with Sport Wales, Cardiff Met and the Welsh Government agencies we have been able to unlock a small group of Welsh athletes returning back to sport.
“The programme is still very much about a safe return to sport, hence this has only been for a small group of elite Welsh athletes based on the medical screening requirements for elite welsh athletes. This is the same protocol for the return to sport across all elite sport in Wales.
“Moving forward we will hope to see further inclusion for athletes once we are in a position to support larger numbers in line with further guidelines.
This is the first phase of the Return to Training strategy for the athletics community in Wales, which will hopefully lead to clubs and more athletes returning to training as facilities start to reopen with the necessary measures in place.
Jones adds: “We are also aware of athletes being able to return to training across Wales based on the government’s guidelines with facilities now coming on line.
“This will offer athletes the opportunity at all levels to start to return to training. This must stay within the guidelines of the facility management.
“It’s a big day for the sport stepping forward and we are all at different stages so please respect the guidelines and stay safe.”
For the latest advice for athletes and clubs regarding the return to athletic activities, go to the Welsh Athletics website.