The 2019 World Championships are taking place in the Middle East. Because of their location and its climate, the championships are taking place significantly later in the season than is typical. In years previous, athletes usually wrapped up their summer track seasons in early September, took a couple weeks off to emotionally and physically reset before beginning their build in October for the next season.
But this year, runners won’t get a break until October 7. While this still leaves enough time to build before the indoor season, it’s made for an extremely long 2019 and it shows in number of runners who are struggling with injury leading into the championship.
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The obstacle is the way. ☝🏻my mantra right now • • This whole thing is a part of my story, whether I like it or not. Somehow I will turn this injury setback into a triumph. It might not be right now, but eventually it will all be clear. Until then, keep. Going. • If you’re looking for a good read (or listen, “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday is a solid choice. • Thank you to everyone who has been reaching out asking about my injury, how I’m doing, and if I’ll be able to compete this weekend. It’s been a rollercoaster both mentally and physically and while I don’t know if I’ll be able to steeple on Friday at the World Championships, I really appreciate all the support from everyone around the world who is cheering me on. 💕 📷: @stephenkersh
Jessica O’Connell announced today that she’s decided to withdraw from the World Championships due to a lower leg injury. American steeplechaser Colleen Quigley has struggled with injury this season and posted on Instagram Monday that she’s not certain she will make it to the start line this week.
This was a very difficult decision I didn't make lightly, and I'll be cheering my heart out for the @AthleticsCanada team from afar! Even though my season ended bittersweet, it had a lot of great moments and I'm excited build on those towards Tokyo 2020. Go Team Canada! https://t.co/wyOjUyi0R0
— Jessica O'Connell (@jess__oconnell) September 24, 2019
While injury has been as issue for several athletes who had hoped to compete in the championships, another consideration has been the cut in 2020 building time as runners look toward an Olympic year.
The IAAF offers invitations to the World Championships about four weeks out from the event. They issued invitations beginning on September 7 to athletes who had not achieved standard in an effort to fill their event quotas. New Zealand runner Nick Willis was hoping to receive one of those invitations but did not, and his reaction to his season coming to a premature end reveals the complications with this year’s schedule.
The runner posted on Twitter saying, “The initial disappointment quickly faded as my coaches and I realized that this may be a great blessing in disguise. With Tokyo only ten months away, I can end my season on the high of winning the 5th Avenue Mile and can afford to have a 2-3 week break before building up again for a great indoor and down under track season. Going to Doha would cut another month into this time frame and limit any recharge time.”
Doha update. pic.twitter.com/i4xPNVJzz6
— Nick Willis (@nickwillis) September 21, 2019
An extra four weeks of competition doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things but when an athlete is riding the razors edge in terms of mental and physical strength, it can feel like an eternity. Between the implementation of World Rankings, the changed Diamond League programmes and shifted Worlds time table, the sports of track and field has seen a lot of change in 2019 and there will certainly be a lot to reflect on once the season is all said and done.