From left to right: Charlotte catches rugby ball, Dayle makes a save, Matt next to banner

The COVID-19 lockdown has drastically changed our everyday lives and for full time athletes, this has significantly impacted training programmes and halted all competitions.

Dual career athletes at Leeds Trinity, who are training whilst studying full time, have noticed the impact lockdown has had on their bodies, their motivation and their long-term goals in their sport. I caught up with three of our current students and alumni, to see how they were finding life in lockdown.

Matthew Gray – current student and international swimmer

I was due to was due to trial in April for a place on Team GB at the 2020 Olympics. I was training full time; spending 18 hours in the pool plus strength and conditioning sessions each week.

As a swimmer in lockdown I had a big hurdle to overcome, the lack of a pool! I wasn’t able to swim for six weeks and had to adapt my training to cycling and running. However, with financial help through the University’s Inspiring Futures Programme and the national Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), I have bought myself a pool for the garden which allowed me to get back to a more specific training programme.

Some days are hard to get into my training, but I have set out my goals for what I want next season and use that to keep focused and keep my effort level high. Having no competitions now until the end of the year is hard to process and makes it harder to train, but I see it as a time to perfect race psychology as I'm practicing visualisation.

After confirmation of 2021 now being an Olympic year and as  we are closer to the end of this lockdown, I feel more driven and excited about the prospects of next year and getting back to a normal routine. I feel that getting back to training with other people will help motivate me further as I'm currently training alone.

Dayle Coleing – alumnus and full time footballer for Europa FC and Gibraltar National Team

Before lockdown started, I was training twice a day, five days a week. I would meet the National Team physio every morning who gave me access to the gym and exercises to do.  Training sessions during the evening are with my club, Europa, which are more football based, and are based in Spain, meaning a group of us from Gibraltar have to arrange to meet in car, cross the border and drive to the sessions together every day.

I was mid-season with my team Europa FC and we were top of the table of the Gibraltar National League when lockdown happened. On Thursday 7 May, Gibraltar FA announced the season would be ‘null and void’ effectively ending our title dreams. This was difficult to hear after working so hard throughout the season. As a team we feel that everything we have worked for this season has not been rewarded after finishing the league first.

Although for the moment there is no competition, I am preparing myself for the upcoming Champions League preliminary rounds that my team will take part in. For me, nothing has changed since before lockdown, although with no access to free weights or treadmills, I have had to revert back to the old ways of running on the streets and doing mini circuits in my house. I still have one end-goal and I am doing everything I can to achieve it.

Charlotte Booth – alumna and professional Rugby League player for West Brisbane Panthers

In the past few months, I’ve had to overcome difficulties in training and the opportunities to adapt just weren’t there. I’ve managed to get out on the field a few times, however there’s been a few times when I’ve travelled down and the pitches have been closed. I’ve been doing road running instead but as a rugby league forward, road running isn't really my favourite thing to do!

I am currently in lockdown in Australia and I’d be lying if I said it was the same before COVID-19. Like any athlete, goal setting and working towards a date and realistic end point is always something I’ve enjoyed. There is so much uncertainty now and to sum it up, the motivation rollercoaster of what has been COVID-19 has been hard! Some days I have felt super motivated and looked at the situation of getting a head start on any competitors that were not training as hard, however other days I have felt more negative.

As a team sport athlete, times like this make me realise how much you depend on your teammates for motivation and for positive mental health. There is so much you get from training with other people, not just the physical benefits.

It’s hard to visualise what sport what will look like over the next few months and it’s clear that this has been an especially challenging time for athletes across all sports. One thing that has shone through from talking with Dayle, Charlotte and Matthew is that although their motivation to train has been up and down throughout the pandemic, the drive to succeed is still there and focusing on their long term goals both individually and with their teams, is crucial to getting through this.

Sarah Todd is Sports Development Manager at Leeds Trinity University. She oversees the University’s Talented Athlete Support Package and Inspiring Futures Sporting Excellence Fund.


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