How Coronavirus is affecting athletes from Preston

Preston SPorts Arena where Preston Harriers train

With Europe now on high alert in fighting Coronavirus (Covid-19), it was announced on Sunday that the UK government had called a meeting with sporting bodies and broadcasters.

This follows an increase in sporting events across the continent being called off across the continent – especially in Italy where most notably top flight football matches are now being played behind closed doors.

But it’s also affecting athletes from Preston Harriers Athletics Club – especially Sharon Wilkinson, who was due to compete in the European Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Braga which have now been cancelled.

The 48-year-old was due to compete in the V45 women’s category, where she is ranked number 1 in the UK.

Reacting to the news the competition had been cancelled Sharon said; “I’m gutted.

“I’ve put a lot of work in (over) six months – All my training has been geared towards that event.”

Coronavirus, or ‘COVID-19’ is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways, with the main symptoms being coughing, a high temperature and shortness of breath.

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Cancellations of events in Athletics are certainly rising with marathon’s in Barcelona and Rome being moved October 2020, whilst such a race in Paris won’t even take place till January 2021.

However, Sharon doesn’t agree with the verdict to call of next week’s championships in Braga.

She said; “In my opinion they didn’t really need to call it off as there are still other sporting activities going on out there, football’s (still being played) out there.

“They are saying because it’s indoors in close proximity – that’s the reason they’ve had to call it off.”

This hasn’t fazed Sharon or a number of her teammates, who are still making the most of their trip with a planned training camp.

Wilkinson still has plenty to look forward to though, and yet more success came in the British Masters Indoors at Lee Valley on Sunday.

Her victory in the 400m event was topped with a new personal best of (60.60), as well as a season best in the 200m race where she finished second.

Alongside her was fellow Harrier Carol Holt, who got bronze in the 400m – earning a personal best – and a silver in the 200m event.

Unlike Sharon, who has been at the club for 13 years now, Carol has only been competing for a couple of years but has found a new lease of life through the provisions on offer at Preston Harriers.

She said; “It’s definitely a release from the day job – I do a bit of exercise three times a week.

“I found out that one of my friends in Watford still did it (Athletics) so I investigated whether there was an athletics club up here, and obviously found Preston Harriers and Sharon and everyone’s just been so welcoming.

The European Masters event in Braga will now take place in January 2021.