Mel Marshall: Safety Of The Athletes & The Nation Is Paramount In Global Tragedy

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Melanie Marshall - Photo Courtesy: Action Woman Twitter

Mel Marshall insists the safety of athletes will not be jeopardised as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to take its deathly toll across the world.

Marshall guided Adam Peaty to Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke gold at Rio 2016 and Luke Greenbank to 200m backstroke bronze at last year’s World Championships but this week she has found herself at the National Centre Loughborough amid a world of uncertainty.

As it stands, Tokyo 2020 is still scheduled to go ahead as planned from 24 July although that is becoming ever more untenable.

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Photo Courtesy: Mel Marshall and Adam Peaty

Marshall, a two-time Olympian, says that until they hear that is not the case, they will prepare in the most difficult of circumstances but is adamant the safety of the athletes – and those around them – is paramount.

She told Swimming World:

“The one clear message we have said at this point is ‘we’ll give you as much information as we’ve got but we’ve just got to get used to being uncertain’.

“But the one thing we’ve said is ‘if it’s on, we’re on and until we hear it’s off, we’re on’.

“That’s the team, the swimmers, the coaches, that’s our mantra at the moment.

“If it’s on, we’re on and we’ll try and keep that mantra and prepare in difficult environments the best we can for an event that’s on at this point.

“So if that’s what they’re saying, that’s what we’ve got to adhere to at this point but within that we’ll be making sure we take decisions to make sure our athletes are safe and make sure any actions we take don’t jeopardise the nation’s mission to be healthy.”

She added:

“Sport does come second to people’s health, sport does come second to those ventilators, sport does come second to those NHS workers and so it should.”

So too does Marshall praise her athletes as they all look at the bigger picture with the global death toll now having passed 11,000.

As of Friday night, 177 had died in the UK.

She said:

“I wrote this thing the other night – just to myself really – and I called it ‘I’ve already won’.

“When I watch Luke Greenbank and what he says on Twitter, when I watch what Adam puts out, when I watch what some of the athletes have put out – they get it.

“So we’ve already won because we’ve got a group of people that are willing and understand the picture we’re all in and want people to know that they know that.

“And so that’s the thing. What we are experiencing is a tragedy, an absolute worldwide tragedy. Italy’s numbers have gone up again. And we’re about to go boom.

“I’m no coronavirus expert but I have watched it and tracked it and seen it.

“You take a handshake for granted, you take a hug for granted, you take going to a restaurant with your other half for granted, you take everything for granted.

“I say this to my guys all the time – to travel, to do what we do, we’re so privileged. The lesson for us all when we come out of this is the little things matter.”

She adds:

“The message they are sending out to the nation is health comes first so if things aren’t on, we understand.

“If the trials aren’t on, we understand.

“It’s a difficult time for the country, a difficult time for the world.”

Marshall is a born leader and reinforced how vital community spirit and helping others is at the moment, saying:

“It’s uncertain but you’ve got to win the little wins that you can win in a day so whether that’s go for a run yourself, whether that’s the little win you can make to support your team.

“We’ve got old people who live around the corner from us and me and my housemate have given them our number in case they need to go to the supermarket – you’ve just got to do your bit.

“It’s a really difficult time and where you wouldn’t do your bit before, look out for how you can do your bit now because we have got to do it.”

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