Adam McMullen: Commonwealth Games long jumper says athletes must adapt to new normal

By Ruairi CunninghamBBC Sport NI
Adam McMullen has represented Ireland and Northern Ireland in major championships
Adam McMullen set his long jump personal best of 7.99m indoors in 2018

Over the past month everything has changed as we all adapt to the new 'normal' in our lives.

It has been the same for athletes many of whom have been trying out new techniques to keep up their training.

Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games long jumper Adam McMullen has been no exception but his incentive has been ever greater.

Not only is the 29 year-old still competing but his livelihood is based on his new business venture of training and coaching young aspiring athletes.

"I've spent the past couple of weeks or so trying to figure out what I can do from home," the county Londonderry native told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"I had the bright idea of trying to do some home workouts but it seems like that's the avenue everyone is going down at the moment.

'You have to be adaptable'

"It's hard to be unique and keep the kids interested when there are other professionals who are very good at this stuff."

He added: "Everything has changed so quickly that you have to be adaptable and try and work things out as you go.

"The University at Jordanstown and Mary Peters Track are both closed, so you have to try and work out, how can I get the best out of my training and coaching.

"I immediately lost around 70% of my monthly income so then I'm thinking how long can I really survive for before it's going to be really tough to pay the bills."

Athletes thrive on routines, of putting plans together months in advance as they prepare to peak at the right time for major competitions.

Now those plans have had to be thrown out the window with the future of when track and field, like so many other sports, might get back up and, pardon the pun, running again.

"We had a camp planned in Florida at the start of April for four weeks, myself, Jason Smyth and two other guys who I coach but we've had to cancel and for my guys their plan for the season was to go out there and get some good training in along with some tough competition."

McMullen's girlfriend Abigail Irozuru has achieved the Olympic Games long jump standard
Adam McMullen's girlfriend British long jumper Abigail Irozuru was a finalist at last year's World Championships in Doha

Girlfriend's Olympics ambitions delayed

Among the young sprinters McMullan coaches are Ireland international Lauren Roy from City of Lisburn and Michael McAuley from the Ballymena & Antrim club and trying to come up with training plans while obeying the new social distancing rules is a challenge.

"Right now, we can't meet in groups of more than two so it's all about talking or texting them sessions that hopefully they can do," continues McMullen.

"I've had some of the Academy kids text me to say they can't get on a track so I'll try and devise a plan suited for them and where they can train at the moment. It's different from athlete to athlete but at least I have time to tailor plans for everyone.

"I tell my athletes that it's easy to train when things are going your way but the true character of an athlete comes out when they have to show resilience.

"Some of these kids are deflated right now and they don't want to train but my friends in athletics who are successful are finding other ways to still push themselves."

McMullan has had to deal with challenges on a personal level with his girlfriend, GB long jumper Abigail Irozuru disappointed following the postponement of the Olympics to next summer.

"Abigail has qualified for the Olympics and when it was announced the Games were postponed she became very anxious.

"She's been upset about it but is more thankful now that the new dates have been agreed. Had the Olympics been cancelled completely I think she would have been heartbroken.

"Everyone's motivation is different and for her it is solely the Olympics and her goal is still alive albeit it is further away than it was before but you have to be resilient."

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