The 2020 season started well enough. Athletes trained for the indoor season but then we were hit by the pandemic and it changed everything. Annual plans went out the window and particularly as a High Jump coach we needed to change, adapt and totally rethink what was best for our athletes.

High Jump was one of the hardest events to get going again so athletes continued their winter training at home or took time off. Discussion between coaches, clubs and England Athletics were ongoing, but it was felt that high jump and pole vault were too risky to resume. So as athletes in all the other disciplines started training again, we were left out. This was further complicated by athletics stadia not opening up and in fact some are still closed today. St Albans was so lucky that the Abbey View track was one of the few that conducted a robust risk assessment and reopened.

Although limited numbers and limited events and initially no jumps were allowed. As soon as we were given the go-ahead to reopen the high jump bed we were there with our hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray. Again we adapted how we did jumps as in between every athlete the bed needed to be sanitised.  Athletes did three jumps then bed was cleaned ready for next athlete.  This was unconventional but worked.

Competition was another hurdle to get over.  Everything has changed and involved risk assessments and I am not joking the one done for Alliance Park to hold a throws fest was 57 pages and 15 addendums. All were reluctant to attempt a high jump risk assessment. Anyway Carol Jackson and I took on the challenge and filmed our athletes at Lee Valley doing a trial competition just so people could see it could be done safely and yippee it was allowed. The rules changed that sanitising only had to be done in between competitions rather than athlete. That really opened the doors for us. The rules were that officials had to stay in bubbles and bubbles of 6 athletes per competition was allowed. Again the Risk Assessment and Management Plan were a massive challenge and although licenses were issued from EA in advance, Stadiums and Councils only gave the go-ahead the night before!  It was so stressful for the competition directors as you were always waiting on tenter hooks. Spectators were not allowed but an athlete could bring a plus 1 and 1 coach maximum because of stadium restrictions. We were warned that under no circumstances could numbers go above the government guidelines. Councils were concerned about out of area people coming into their area. None of it was easy but we did it and what a way to end an unprecedented season. Two of our athletes competed and finished the season with PBs.

So I say well done to Ben Walker who trained so hard over the outdoor season and to finish with a PB is all I could ask for more. Ben you can only get better. Dahlia Corp‘s first competition saw her become joint first in the UK. Then in her second competition she well and truly established herself as The Number 1 in the UK with a massive jump of 1.58. Dahlia I say to you a massive well done and everyone is so proud of you. There are not many who can say they are Number 1 in the UK so enjoy your moment.

We now move into the next phase of our annual plan and start winter training following our active rest period.  Training will recommence down the track from Thursday 29th October where we will be concentrating on circuits, plyos and running. I hope you can all join me.

But what’s next …  Will there be an indoor season?  At this moment I would say it’s looking unlikely but watch this space and as soon as I know I will let you all know.

Well done High Jumpers – let’s keep putting St Albans on the map.