Well, today I’ve had my fifth club family let me know they have corona virus in their house, including my own. Living in the densely populated West London, we probably should have expected to have contact with it, despite pulling my children out of school a week before the schools closed and closing my judo club down for the first time in 17 years, on 16th March.
The last school judo class - March 2020

I have been a coach since 2000 and opened my own judo club in 2003. It’s grown in ways I never imagined, to where it is now, where it was before 16th March. Club members compete all over the world, from lovely, local beginner events to the Olympic Games. Our members live all over the place, travelling and committing to training in ways that make me truly appreciate the power of sport and of a sporting community.

I have been coaching approximately 14 sessions a week and now it’s stopped. Just stopped, point blank. It is a strange kind of holiday from work. I miss the families very much and notice the lack of variety in my immediate space. I’m in my home, with my 4 small people and we are eating so well and training in some way every day. I’m not sure if the children think they’re lucky or godforsaken to live with their judo coach, but the jigsaw mats in the back garden are taking quite a pounding.

Circuit training in the garden - thank you for sunshine

I didn’t think for a second that we would catch it, after all we were being careful, washing our hands so much that my skin was going dry. We washed our clothes after being out for food shopping. We didn’t visit friends or pop in to see grandparents. We did what we were told and stayed at home. Walking outside for a couple of hours most days, away from anyone else – with some added hill sprints for the mini judoka! I paid by contactless, not touching pedestrian crossing buttons and not allowing delivery personnel into the house.

Pressure on my chest, a loss of appetite, no taste or sense of smell. Not much of a temperature and only a mild, dry cough for a couple of days. A sore throat unlike any I have experienced before, so dry and kind of not sore, but really present. The worst? Anxiety! Huge. Unexpected. Dark. Constant. I hadn’t heard anyone say that anxiety was a symptom, only really hearing about the dry cough and high temperature. During online conversation with a few colleagues and friends I gradually built a picture in my mind of the real list of symptoms and yes, anxiety was quite possibly one of them.

I’m usually a practical, solution-led person, but this really chipped away at me, left feeling lazy and guilty and wondering why making breakfast was so hard. Two weeks of that, with a lot of hugs from the children. At least two of them had it too, but pretty mildly. We managed some school work and kept in touch with club members via our closed social media group. I posted plenty of content and even held theory tests via FaceTime and gradually the panic lifted and my taste buds sprang back to life. Now, as a foodie of monstrous proportions, I’m back to enjoying my kitchen, baking and cooking a lot as a family.

Away from the anxiety, I now feel my usual positivity and am totally confident in a clearing of the cloud of Covid-19. I have been so motivated by the athletes I have seen working their socks off in their homes, some living alone but clearly training just as hard as ever. That takes mental power in the extreme and has to be admired.

Nekoda Davis, training in her living room

I’ve watched Amandine posting her training selfies, Nekoda building circuits in her living room, Clarisse posting both her interval training and her home-cooked body fuel and have been so impressed by some of the coaching going on too; the sharing of ideas and the togetherness that is coming out of this isolation. What a paradox!

Amandine Buchard continues to prepare as only the elite can.

I’m looking forward to getting back to our new normal and having the chance to appreciate my colleagues and friends in person. I don’t throw away this comment or mean it to sound clichéd, but I cannot believe how much I am appreciating a beautiful sky and the sounds of happy conversation among the children. This focussed time in small environments brings a concentrated perspective. I think our lives have changed a little bit forever and maybe I will be a little bit grateful for some of these lessons, once the grief and the furore have passed.

Thank you to all the health professionals. Thanks to all the friends helping each other to stay afloat. Thanks to the postal workers and refuse collectors.

Stay at home.

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