British League postponed for Beagles but lockdown could be a boost for all our fitness

Rowan Griffiths the Beagles team manager

Rowan Griffiths the Beagles team manager - Credit: Archant

Keeping fit and staying healthy is the most important thing

Great Britain's Rabah Yousif smiles after qualifying for the semi-finals in the Mens 400m, during da

Great Britain's Rabah Yousif smiles after qualifying for the semi-finals in the Mens 400m, during day two of the IAAF World Championships at the Beijing National Stadium, China. - Credit: PA

Newham & Essex Beagles’ hopes of winning the British Athletics League title for the first time since 2010 look like they may be dashed.

The new look British League was to incorporate men and women for the first time, but team manager Rowan Griffiths was confident that they would do well.

“We had made a lot of new recruits in both the men’s and the women’s squads and were hopeful of doing well,” said Rowan.

The first match of the league has already been cancelled, while the second fixture has been provisionally moved to September.

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“There must be doubts over that second match too and now I can only think there may be one match to decide the season, like a one-off cup match and it is impossible to predict how that would go.”

The establishment of the new league has been a contentious one and Griffiths admitted that he was not in favour.

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“I think the men’s league and the women’s league were of a high quality in themselves,” he said.

“I voted against it at the meeting, but we are a democracy and the vote went against me, so that was that.

“I just think that we want to have our best athletes competing against each other and the way this was going to work, we would have only faced our main rivals Birchfield Harriers in the first match and maybe the final.”

Birchfield have won the title for the last five years, but the Beagles ran them close in second last year.

The Olympics in Tokyo has also been postponed until 2021, but Rowan thinks that will cause huge problems logistically.

“Losing the Olympics this year is a blow to many athletes,” said Rowan.

“For some they would have been preparing for a last attempt at going there and now the thought of having to go through another winter of preparation may be too much for them.

“Logistically it is difficult too. If it is now next year then it will clash with the World Championships, so do you have both in one year?

“If you push the worlds back too then it runs into the European Champs, it is going to be very difficult to sort out.”

These are unprecedented time for everyone, but Rowan believes that it could really benefit the sport of athletics in the long term.

“The fact that we are all at home, especially youngsters means you can certainly not play any team sports, but you can keep fit,” he explained.

“You only have to look at Joe Wicks and his daily PE lesson to see there is an appetite for it.

“Perhaps when it is all over there will be a greater enthusiasm for keeping fit and in a funny way athletics could benefit from that.

“But, at the moment, the most important thing is for everyone to stay fit and healthy indoors.”

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