Virtual replaced real
Moving from the real world to the virtual one has been a necessity for most sports, even if it has just been to keep in touch with players and athletes who were locked out of their venues and playing fields.
For many, though, the screen became a lifeline. Reuben Florence, chief instructor at Dragon Karate Cymru in Bangor used online karate lessons as a way to keep in touch with club members as well as introduce new recruits to the sport.
“Online activities were never going to replace the real thing of face-to-face instruction, but in the present time they were a fantastic way of introducing the sport and keeping people connected,” says Reuben.
Likewise, it was the online world that kept cricket clubs throughout Wales connected to each other throughout the summer – with videos funnies, training tips and quizzes - when the clubs themselves were out of bounds.
At the elite level, cyclists such as Geraint Thomas and Elinor Barker headed into their garages where virtual sessions on bikes linked to software such as Zwift, enabled them to stay in shape.
Virtual training then became virtual races, while one of the early social media hits of lockdown were the instructive swimming fitness sessions posted by double Olympic silver medalist Jazz Carlin.
Her workout routines – for swimmers and non- swimmers – were shared by thousands, as were Sport Wales’ own videos for staying active in the home which featured Welsh international athletes Melissa Courtney and Mica Moore.
Ingenuity has also been a familiar theme throughout Welsh sport in 2020, with athletes and whole sports using their creative juices to best effect.
Bags of motivation
During the first lockdown, Welsh long jumper Sarah Abrahamfilled two Sainsbury’s shopping bags with heavy books and tied them to a lifting bar - in order to conjure a makeshift gym in the living room of her London flat.
Similarly, Wales’ double Paralympic champion Aled Davies showed he’s a dab hand in the garden DIY arena by fixing up his own throwing area, slung with netting between two apple trees.
“It’s about being smart,” he said. “I’m not chasing world records in my back garden. I’m just trying to tick over and hopefully not get too much rust on the joints.”
Wales’ Olympic star and former world number one judoka Natalie Powell went one better by creating an entire mat area and indoor gym inside her Cardiff living room.