Some thoughts and observations during a pandemic.

Sale Harriers is a diverse club with many aspects of Athletics performed and practiced at different levels.

As we await the impending easing of restrictions to our liberty that has been essential to protect us, it may be worth reflecting on how the war generation managed to keep the home fires burning and also the traditions of the sport. During our own war which we are still fighting against an unseen enemy, there have been efforts to keep going with seen and unseen involvement. It is in the elite sports category that participation has been allowed.

The fragility of our existence is juxtaposed by our resilience. This is exemplified by no better than Chris Thompson in the Marathon trials at Kew Gardens, live on you tube one Friday morning. My reason for tuning in was to see a further leg of the journey made by Sale athlete Nigel Martin who has developed over the last few years thanks to Norman Poole and his group at Wythenshawe. I didn't see much of Nigel sadly but the unbridled joy of Thompson extended to many others who witnessed the 39 year old putting years of injuries behind him to win. I'm sure similar joy will be witnessed when everyone else eventually gets back to competitions. They were of course privileged as elite athletes who have been able to take part in scaled down competitions. Whilst many look on enviously, unaware of the extent of sacrifice that earned this opportunity, they too benefited from seeing the essence of competition has not been diminished and shared in the joyous moment when training pays off and we do our best.

 I for one am in awe of the steadfast determination some Sale members have shown throughout this strange time. At all levels there have been partnerships that have been inventive and committed. It is easier to document the elite athletes because they can compete. Maybe it could be a subject of another article if people sent in how they have kept training especially if they have been inventive, no matter what their level.

 One elite partnership has been coach Vicente Modahl and athlete Aimee Pratt. Vicente organised an invitational meet at Sport City which had limited numbers but gave his athlete a chance to compete against some of the best. Aimee had already become British Champion Steeplechaser in September at the delayed British Championships, whilst at the same meet contesting the 800m. It's a shame her success and that of others had rather limited celebrations.

At the same meet, young potential Cesca Brint and Megan Davies got valuable experience in the 1500m in a quality field as did Jonah Efoloku who came fourth in the 200m. These athletes all started very young at Sale. Chris Baker contested the High Jump and Rosie Semenytsh the Javelin, whilst another young talent Sophie Ashurst was in the Pole Vault coming 3rd in her first British Champs. (how did she train for that when Sport City was shut?) Reynold Banigo became British Champion in the Long Jump, another fine performance. There were great hopes for quality Long Jumper Abigail Irozuru who had the same pb as Jasmine Sawyers but the Stoke athlete prevailed in a close contest which she also did in the European Indoors in Poland by only 4cms.

Loyal and successful Discus thrower Kirsty Law has had to adapt her training like many others, turning her garden and car parking space into a High Performance centre. Throwing events only get limited attention at best, and the likes of Kirsty deserve more. It’s hard for throwers, as when Athletics facilities are shut they can hardly adapt by going to the nearest field for fear of taking out dogs and their owners. They need a big area to throw. Kirsty became British Champion with a pb and huge throw of 57.95m, so however she adapted it worked. Follow her at @kirstylawdiscus

Finally another club stalwart who has been a Sale athlete since school, sprinter Andy Robertson, not only has he represented club and country, but he is the sort of guy who will turn up to give out medals at the Primary section awards night too. Andy went to the European Championships in Poland and won his 60m heats and Semis but couldn't repeat his best time in the Final. He was just outside the medals in fourth. Had he repeated his earlier 6.59 he would have won Silver.

Me? I'm just an observer with no more right than anyone else to write this but having the inclination. I have managed to continue on my own, hiding away from observations, a little embarrassed at my meagre efforts, but glad I am still healthy enough to run. It's also kept me sane - well as sane as I'll ever be.

Regards

D.E.Greenwood