It’s not bigger than Ben-Hur, but Athletics New Zealand is preparing for something close to epic proportions ahead of next year’s Olympics.

The sports organisation is considering the prospect of their athletes
having no major international competition ahead of the postponed Tokyo
Games in 2021.

They’re holding a training camp in Hawke’s Bay to get a lot of their top athletes together following the covid-19 lockdown.

International travel restrictions mean local athletes are facing at least eight months training in New Zealand.

There are 15 athletes, mainly throwers and jumpers at the camp, with
the middle distance runners to join in over the coming weeks.

After training in isolation during level four lockdown, most of the
squad have been able to use High Performance New Zealand facilities for
the last month and High Performance Director, Scott Goodman says the
next step was to get them together.

“We thought this would be a good chance to get people together in a supportive environment where they can talk to each other and get each other motivated.”

Athletics New Zealand will discuss with athletes and coaches what their preparation for the Olympics may look like.

“We think there’s a pretty slim chance of international travel
between now and Tokyo so we’re planning on preparing here in New
Zealand.”

“Hopefully we get some competition in Australia within a couple of
months but yeh it’s not bigger than Ben-Hur, the aim is to have some
competition against Australian athletes in November and December so
we’ll still get a five month build-up.”

Goodman says most of their athletes have come out of lockdown in pretty good shape physically and mentally.

He says the athletes are accepting of the time the country is going through and what it means for them.

“The guys I talk to are very logical and accepting of that, so they
all realise that they’ve all played their part and in an uncanny way
it’s brought them together.”

“They’re looking forward to the games next year and the different preparation it’s going to take to get there so there’s a lot of positivity.”

RNZ

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