One of Team GB’s big hopes for gold on the track at the Olympics was, and still is, 110m hurdler Andrew Pozzi.
The Sky Sports Scholar was training in Italy under the watchful eye of legendary Cuban coach Santiago Antunez who has coached two of the last five Olympic sprint hurdle champions.
Pozzi was caught up in the severe lockdown imposed by the Italian Government due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He was confined to his flat in Formio for 22 hours a day, only allowed out to train thanks to a ‘police paperwork pass’. Last week though as the UK Government brought in its own ‘lockdown’ measures, Pozzi left Italy and returned to the UK.
Pozzi spoke to Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes about his journey home, the Olympics postponement, sporting congestion in 2021, as well as his favourite football club, Liverpool.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE LEAVING ITALY?
I’d got used to the lockdown in Italy a little, but when I decided to return home a friend and training partner who works with the police came with me. It’s about an hour-and-a-half from Formio to the airport in Rome.
I wasn’t too worried as I had him with me, but I was travelling with a good reason and had the relevant paperwork if I was stopped by the police.
The airport in Rome was strange. It was empty, except for a few flights and it took ages to check in. The plane was so big, they had changed the normal planes so there was room for people to spread out. But even then the police stopped a few people coming on and took them away.
I didn’t know why – maybe they didn’t have the paperwork or a good enough reason to be leaving.
On the plane everyone was wearing masks, but it was a contrast to when I arrived in the UK. I know everyone here is taking it seriously and is disciplined, but in Italy it was on a different level.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE OLYMPICS HAS MOVED TO SUMMER 2021?
I was working on they would go for October this year in 2020. I think I would have liked that as I’ve prepared really well for an Olympics this year and it would have worked well, but I totally understand the decision and I think it’s correct.
In the summer of 2021, we can now structure in the same way we would have done this year. It would have been difficult in April or May.
There’s a vacuum now though as we’ve been prepping for four years and now nothing as all competition to June postponed and possibly beyond after the Olympics. It’s a big period of limbo.
HOW WILL ALL THE SPORTING CLASHES BE RESOLVED?
It’s a complete minefield. The World Athletics Championships are supposed to be then although I’m hearing these might move to 2022, but that then goes to a year, to a summer where we have a Commonwealth Games and a European outdoor Championships.
Add to that the indoor season where the World Indoors in Nanjing were already moved from now to 2021. It could get congested!
I spoke with @SkySportsNews about my experience of preparing for an uncertain Olympic Games in Southern Italy https://t.co/nrhFiedWek
IS THE SEASON EFFECTIVELY OVER?
It is a very real prospect. I’d say all athletes want a season this year if it is safe. Any mass gathering needs people to travel and plenty of people to run the meetings so it has to be done safely.
It’s all so strange. We face the prospect of no major championships from the 2019 Worlds in Doha to nothing until the lead-up to the Olympics. That’s 16 months! That’s a very long time.
YOU’RE A BIG LIVERPOOL FAN. GIVE THEM THE TITLE NOW OR RESUME SEASON?
NO! No! It’s not what the players want. I hope the league resumes and Liverpool will become deserved winners of the Premier League.
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