The Al Wasl athletic club of Dubai has resumed the training for all its professional athletes after a ten-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will try to first get their forms back on track while making sure everyone is safe. The competitions are important, but there has not been a single announcement of any competition,” said Al Wasl running team coach, South African Godwin Odinukaeze.
Al Wasl running team was considered to be the best among the United Arab Emirates clubs, winning multiple trophies nationally before the pandemic. Over 40 young athletes from different nationalities — mostly Indians, Emiratis, British, and Africans — are members of Al Wasl. Athletes are now resuming their activities but most have lost their ability to perform at the same levels as before the pandemic outbreak.
Nevertheless, the athletes seem determined to compete in any competition that would be offered to them, as some consider that this year could be their last chance to win gold medals before they have to retire and start a corporate job.
“I have to be ready by March as all the competitions will resume in May and it will be my last year as an athlete before I go to India to work. I will train hard and hope I do not get corona,” said Mohammed Sinan, a 20-year-old 200 meters runner from India, during a phone interview.
“This year, I’m aiming to win double gold so that I may request from Alwasl to increase my salary as it will help me in university. Also, I need to push my running resume if I want to make it to the Indian national team. They have top athletes, and I can’t use covid as an excuse,” said Adhil Afsal, a 19-year-old long and high jump athlete also from India, in a phone interview.
As official competitions are yet to be announced, Al Wasl athletes take advantage of some private events such as the “ultimate athletics race night” because they have low admission costs and their official clock timing can be registered in the players’ resumes, according to Odinukaeze.
Odinukaeze said that some Al Wasl runners will compete by the end of March in the “ultimate athletics race night” because it could be their only and last race, given some are senior athletes.