Lockdown ‘brings positives’ for athletics – Scottish Athletics chair

Nicola Sturgeon is a convert, and she is far from the only one.

Scotland’s First Minister tweeted on Saturday about “taking my own advice” and getting out for a run, extolling its benefits for physical and mental health.

Exercise has taken on heightened importance amid the coronavirus lockdown, with the UK government telling councils that parks must remain open.

And the surge in interest in running represents “a good opportunity for our clubs,” says Scottish Athletics chairman Ian Beattie, despite the race calendar being decimated.

“Despite all the disappointment, I do feel there have been positives,” Beattie wrote in an open letter to members.

“It is fantastic to see that both the Scottish and UK Governments recognise the importance of exercise, to such an extent that it is one of the ‘reasonable excuses’ for people leaving their homes.

“It has also been great to see the number of people who have taken running up during this time. My 21-year-old son is one; he has not been able to do his normal gym work and instead has been out running and, importantly, has really enjoyed it.

“I have seen many other ‘new’ runners in the same position. Hopefully they will continue running when things get back to normal, with many joining our athletics clubs and jog groups.”

Beattie confirmed “a number of staff” have been placed on the government’s job retention scheme.

And he sympathised with Scotland’s elite athletes, with this summer’s Olympics now postponed to 2021 and uncertainty surrounding both the British and European Championships.

“Like everyone else, my own racing plans for the spring have been decimated,” Beattie added. “However, the disappointment I feel at these cancellations is nothing compared to what our top athletes must be going through.

“I really feel for them. It must be almost impossible to pull together a plan towards Tokyo 2021, particularly with the restrictions on accessing facilities for strength and conditioning work and so on.

“I’ve seen some brilliant improvisation from our athletes on social media – home made gym facilities have been a common theme. But it cannot be easy, either physically or mentally.”