As famous American Baseball coach Yogi Berra said "its deja vu all over again.
A year ago, just after the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in March, a series of cancellations of sporting events followed by the Covid 19 lockdown ruled out all sport for many weeks.
The lockdown heavily affected all aspects of life and sport was no exception and in the case of major summer sports, rowing and athletics, led to the cancellation of major events for the rest of the season including scheduled Australian events and overseas tours.
The New Zealand and New Zealand Schools Cross Country fell when the country was in alert level 2 and Auckland in level 3 through much of August and September.
The weekend announcement of alert levels has led to uncertainty about many events including the New Zealand Track and Field Championships scheduled for this weekend in Hastings.
The event has been called off and discussions are under way about possible postponements or alteration to the format.
This time, like in September and for a few days last month, considerable uncertainty presents problems for athletes and their coaches in terms of athlete preparation. Creativity and keeping calm, only dealing with things that can be controlled will be paramount over the immediate future.
Athletes competing at the Collegiate Inter House on Saturday evening found out about the new levels at the end of the meeting after the presentation of the trophy (retained by Grey House).
Athletes were fortunate to have a wonderful evening of athletics in near perfect conditions with a large vociferous crowd of parents and students. This combination led to close and exciting contests, which brought about close on 30 personal best performances. Athletes who would have been in Hastings this weekend were prominent.
George Lambert, captain of the winning House led from the front, winning the 1500 metres and 800m and leading a team effort over the Steeplechase and ended a busy evening with a run in the 4 x 400m. Lambert therefore ran 4700m over four events. His 800m was particularly impressive when he stopped the clock in 2:00.66 tantalisingly close to going under 2 minutes for the first time.
Nevertheless, the run was a full four seconds inside his previous best. Second and third were less than two seconds in arrears and were separated in a photo finish by .02 second with 400m specialist Daniel Taylor heading off triathlete Hunter Gibson.
Young Daniel Sinclair who, back at the Cooks Classic ran a Collegiate under 16 record over 3000m in the New Zealand under 20 Championships, was another Hastings-bound athlete who had a busy night. He ran in the team 3000m, the 800m and 1500m and also in a 4 x 400 relay.
He won the first three events. Over 3000m he led his Harvey Team to victory taking the first three places and fifth in the 4 – to score team race (Elliot Jones, Tom Hercus and current New Zealand under-20 double gold medal walk winner Lucas Martin whose title defence is in limbo). The time was less spectacular than the teamwork.
Grey House also showed team work with their selections by moving young sprinter Edie Franks up to seniors. Both the House and the athlete were rewarded with a 100m/200m sprint double, the latter in a personal best time. Her training partner Morgan Wilson won the 100m and was second in the junior 200m with personal bests in both.
Bella Willis, daughter of Steve Willis who has a Whanganui Sports Heritage sub 4 cap to his name and whose brother is Olympic double 1500m medal winner and Cooks Gardens record-holder Nick Willis, impressed over 200 and 300m.
Willis had an outstanding Inter House debut winning the 200m in a personal best 26.29, faster than her 5th place junior effort in December's New Zealand Schools, and backed this up with an impressive best over 300m in 41.92 that hinted at genuine promise over 400m. Her NZ Championship is on hold and hopefully she and other athletes can be back in action soon.
The Whanganui Secondary Schools and North Island Schools were Covid victims last year and we all hope that Whanganui Secondary Schools will go ahead on June 17 and the North Island on April 11 in Hamilton will take place. Watch this space.