We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.
On what would have been North West 200 Race Day, we speak to Honda Racing British Superbike and international road racer Glenn Irwin, who has won the last four Superbike races at the North West.
Q: How are you keeping?
A: I’m keeping well to be honest and I would say that obviously it’s frustrating not to be racing, but I’ve just been keeping at it as best I can with cycling and training, obviously within the social distancing parameters that have been set out by the government. Ian Young of iFit-NI, a former European kickboxing champion, has been looking after myself and my brother Andrew in terms of our fitness, so we’ve been doing a lot of home workouts. Although it’s frustrating not to be able to race, the big picture is getting through this situation as best we can and it’s more important to stay safe and follow the necessary guidelines around coronavirus, which are in place for a very good reason.
Q: How have you been affected?
A: Obviously all sport is basically in lockdown at the moment so it has affected my career because we’re unable to race. There is also the financial aspect involved but it’s fine because I’m fit and healthy, so it could always be a lot worse and we can overcome this.
Day to day, we don’t have the usual race weekends to look forward to and as I’m talking to you now, I’m doing a cycle up on the north coast with a strong headwind, so that’s about as close to the North West 200 as we’re going to get this year!
Q: How are you keeping fit?
A: I’m cycling a lot and doing plenty of workouts at home. I’ve actually got my own little motocross track out the back of my house so I’m just doing as much as I can really to keep my fitness up for any possible return to racing, if and when it happens.
Q: How are you maintaining morale?
A: We always cling onto some kind of hope that there might be racing, but I know that with Stuart Higgs at the helm (BSB Race Director), he will do a phenomenal job in getting some racing in, if and when we are given the green light to do so safely.
In terms of keeping up morale, sport for me is my job, it’s my career, so I find it easy to stay motivated because I’m looking at the long-term picture and I think staying motivated is an important quality to have.
Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?
A: I always work hard towards my goals and there are always things that I want to achieve in my career. We have daily dialogue with the team and Honda have been brilliant with myself, Andrew and Davey Todd through this, so that has been a big help.
I’ve also had the chance to learn a lot about Havier Beltran, my team manager, from the conversations we have had because he’s been so calm about the whole situation.
Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think stay at home sports fans might like?
A: I love Alex Ferguson’s book because I just admire the discipline he was able to instil in his players at Manchester United. He reminds me a lot of my former boss at Gearlink Racing, Michael de Bidath, who was fantastic at creating high morale within a serious workplace but also with an element of fun. That is something I’ve seen at Honda too and I’ve already told Harv that he reminds me so much of Mike. He’s like an army general and everyone respects him, but you can also have a bit of fun with him as well.
In terms of a box set, ‘Shooter’ on Netflix is just the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life — but make sure you watch the series and not the film.
Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?
A: That’s a good question because I think it’s one that we’ve all been asking ourselves over these weeks. Motorbikes are the biggest thing in our lives along with our families and I’ve learned some simple things. I think when this is over, I might lead a simpler life than what I’ve done before because you realise for example that there are some things that you don’t necessarily need. You don’t need as much luxury to get through life and things that you maybe thought were important before suddenly don’t seem as important. But the one thing I’ve missed most is being able to ride my motorbike!
Q: What’s the first thing you will do when all this is over?
A: Get back to racing again. We’re normally kept so busy with training and racing, but now and again I like to go into Belfast because I enjoy the social life there and I’m looking forward to going out for a bite to eat again.
Q: And your message to bike fans?
A: By the time you’re reading this, we should have been at the North West 200 but we’re going to have to wait another year for that to see how it all unfolds. But we’ll get through this and we’ll all be able to enjoy racing again. I hope as many people as possible haven’t been too badly affected by this whole situation and my thoughts go out to anyone who has been in any way.
From 10am to 2pm today, BBC NI will air a North West 200 Lockdown programme including highlights of previous races, interviews with riders and other special guests. The live programme, presented by Stephen Watson in the company of Phillip McCallen and Richard Nichols, will be broadcast on the BBC Sport website and the BBC Bikes Facebook page