Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 13 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

UAE athletics gets back on track after lockdown

Ultimate Athletics in Dubai opens its doors under strict health protocols, much to the delight of young athletes

Lisa Campbell, the Ultimate Athletics UAE founder, believes the reopening of sports facilities after the Covid-19 lockdown has provided children of various ages “something to look forward to” this week.

The athletics academy in Dubai opened the doors after Dubai Sports Council issued a list of guidelines for the resumption of sports activities, in line with the regulations issued by the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management two days earlier.

Campbell believes athletics as one of the safest sport to return following the global lockdown in all sporting activities.

“We have been under lockdown for nearly three months and naturally we were nervous to return,” she said.

“However, being athletics, I think it is one of the safest sport to resume because we can easily distance the athletes by using alternate lanes on the track.”

Campbell said response for the training session has been overwhelming but numbers had to be restricted to ensure safety measures are followed.

“Even before the announcement was made, we were getting a lot of enquiries from members if they can continue with the athletics training,” she said.

“The re-start was very much welcome and the 12-year-olds and above were really excited to return.

“The majority of them have taken up their places in groups of five and some of them had to be turned away, unfortunately. That just shows how popular the return to the track has been.”

Campbell said the academy has implemented all directives from the Dubai Sports Council.

A list of instructions had to be signed by each parent before the kids were enrolled for training.

It includes temperature checks, sanitising hands before and after sessions, wearing masks, not touching any equipment, and all equipment getting sanitised after every session. “We have taken every precaution that had to be taken and I feel it is really safe,” Campbell said.

A former athlete growing up in London, Campbell founded Ultimate Athletics UAE in 2016.

“When I first got here, I missed the scene of track and field, and I missed the coaching,” the former PE teacher at Gems Wellington International School said.

“I started an after-school programme for athletics and it grew from there, really. I left teaching and decided to give the track and field academy a real chance to grow."

Ultimate Athletics has six full-time coaches and they are based in Dubai Sports City, New York University and Zayed Sports City - both in Abu Dhabi.

“Basically we want to provide opportunities for kids as young as three to get involved in sports,” Campbell said. “We believe this sport is the fundamental of all sports as you run, jump and throw.

“They are generic skills that can benefit and have an effect on all sports that you do in later life, and prevent injuries if you have the correct running techniques.

“To get people involved is the main aspect. However, we do have an elite performance side where we provide strength and conditioning, provide opportunities for competitions locally and abroad to enhance their performances.”

Updated: June 5, 2020 08:31 AM

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