Alena Brooks

NATIONAL RECORD HOLDER: Trinidad and Tobago half-miler Alena Brooks

Alena Brooks was busily preparing for the 2020 outdoor track and field season when the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to her plans.

“Training was going great,” Brooks told the Express. “I did some pacing/rabbit and 4x4 relay work indoors, and was really getting excited to open my season outdoors.”

Ahead of her anticipated outdoor campaign, Brooks was based in Arkansas, USA, where she trained under the guidance of Chris Johnson. The Trinidad and Tobago half-miler was able to return home before the country’s borders were closed in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“When I returned home, I had to self-quarantine, followed by the understandable restrictions on outdoor activities and use of sporting facilities. At the University of Arkansas, sporting facilities were closed as well. However, my training group was still able to do alternative training on hills and trails.”

Brooks said she is grateful to those who have been motivating her to keep training during this challenging period.

“Members of the Elite Development and Performance Unit (EDPU) at the Sports Company of T&T (SporTT), including strength and conditioning coach Antonia Burton, Coach Johnson, close friends and family members.

“Restrictions have eased up a bit,” Brooks continued, “in terms of being able to restart mileage. But facilities are still closed as the virus is still being monitored closely, so home circuits are my new best friend. I basically train the same since the ease in restrictions aren’t enough to do much more work at the moment. I do at-home workouts and mileage around my neighbourhood.”

Brooks is the national record holder in the women’s 800 metres with a two minutes, 01.81 seconds clocking. Though the Olympic qualifying standard is more than two seconds faster at 1:59.50, the 28-year-old had little doubt she would have been on the T&T team for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“My coach and I were working on specific things that I knew were paramount in meeting the standard. So yes, I was confident I would have achieved my goal of qualifying for the Olympics.”

As it turned out, Covid-19 forced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games. The Olympics will now be staged between July 23 and August 8, 2021.

“I’m not very ecstatic about having the extra year,” said Brooks. “Whilst I am able to work on other stuff at home, I know my actual pacing work has suffered. I’m motivated, but it gets difficult at times when I consider other factors. So, I’m just focused right now on taking things one day at a time.”

Even if there is a 2020 outdoor season at some point, Brooks does not expect to be part of it.

“There are only a few Diamond League meets carded for later this year. Unfortunately, the work I am able to do at the moment won’t allow me to compete at the level I need to. I do not have any other source of income besides track, so unfortunately I won’t have any income this year.”

Brooks plans to compete at the highest level in 2021, the ultimate goal being the Olympics. She believes, though, that the playing field will not be level at the Tokyo Games.

“Nothing is always totally fair. There’d be some athletes at home now with no equipment; there’d be some with very little equipment; and then you’d see others with almost an entire gym at their residence. But that same concept holds true in a regular season as well. Regardless, Olympic postponement gives all athletes enough time to prepare as best as they could.

“It will be a long road to the Olympics that I’m sure will be filled with difficult decisions,” Brooks ended, “but the best thing I can do right now is take it one day at a time.”

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