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  Abby Hughes maintaining fitness despite Covid 19  

THE third lockdown in less than a year has been really tough for all athletes trying to maintain a high level of fitness in readiness for when competition resumes.

Local race walker Abby Hughes, who attends King’s College and belongs to Taunton Athletic Club, ended 2020 as the UK Under 17 number one, and is keen to retain and improve on her performances.

“It’s been a challenging couple of months throughout this lockdown. I am lucky to have been able to keep my training up – running and walking four times a week plus doing home-based strength and conditioning sessions set by my coach Mr Shaw,” said the 15-year-old.

What the local athlete has missed most is the social interaction of being with others.

“It has been hard constantly training on my own. I miss the thrill of competing and the drive and interaction of training with others.”

“Unfortunately, all cross-country racing opportunities have now been cancelled, which is understandable but disappointing as I was hoping to qualify for the nationals again this year.”

Abby is hoping for better times ahead and looking forward she said: “ I am hoping that there will be some competitive opportunities in race walking and on the track over the next few months and I am training hard for these.

“Not having access to a track is difficult as several of my race walk competitions this season are track based and it’s hard to prepare for these on the road.”

So what is the race walker aiming for in 2021?

“This year I am aiming to improve my 5000m race walk track PB and I would love to achieve the qualifying time for the Under 18 European Championships in August.

“Another aim is to be invited to the British Championships again and also to represent England at the schools' international in July.

Abby went on: “I have been invited to be part of the England Race Walk Programme and am part of the training squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games so I am excited to see what opportunities this brings!

“The sessions are virtual at the moment but I am hoping that we can meet for training once lockdown eases. It would be great to train with other race walkers and learn from some of the elite athletes in my event.”

Steve Shaw her coach said: “After the experiences of 2020 the latest lockdown has meant that Abby has had to adapt to train on quiet roads and parks but she has embraced this well. We have started to gradually increase her training with longer walks and quantity and have discussed plans for the next two years, and continuing to drop her 5km PB and see what opportunities that brings.”

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