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Zoe Wilson reveals home training routines as Ireland hockey girls' Olympic warm-ups face axe



Zoe Wilson

Zoe Wilson

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Zoe Wilson

Ireland's Olympic warm-up matches against China which were scheduled to take place in Belfast next month look certain to be cancelled due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The four games were due to be played on the new world-class water-based pitch at the Dub during Easter week but Queen's University have announced that all their sports facilities are to be closed indefinitely with immediate effect.

More pertinent, though, is the fact that the Chinese squad have been based in South Africa for several weeks and would have no way of getting to Belfast for the series.

The South African government has banned flights to and from Europe and further afield after declaring a 'state of national disaster' earlier this week.

So far, the coronavirus outbreak has had only a limited effect in South Africa although the total number of cases rose by 34 to 116 yesterday but, like in other parts of the world, the impact is expected to increase in the coming weeks and months and the authorities there are clearly taking no chances as they attempt to limit the spread of the disease.

Ironically, Ireland had been due to travel to Durban on Monday for a 20-day warm-weather training camp before cancelling the proposed trip which has turned out to be a prudent move in the circumstances.

Sean Dancer's squad were to have played a total of seven internationals in South Africa - one against their hosts, four against the Chinese and two against Japan, who are also based there, having left their own country before the coronavirus gained a strong foothold in Asia.

The trip to Durban was hastily arranged after it had originally been planned for the squad to travel to Malaysia in order to replicate the heat and humidity that the players will experience in Tokyo but the visit to Kuala Lumpur also fell victim to fears over the virus.

Meanwhile, all of Ireland's squad training sessions have been put on hold until further notice but the players have been keeping sharp on an individual basis, although it's not quite a case of business as usual in that regard.

Zoe Wilson, who is one of nine Ulster players in the extended squad of 28, explained: "Yes, we are all training on our own and being creative with how we can still make the gains needed in preparation for the Olympics.

"The girls have made home gyms as far as possible and are using things they have in their houses to be able to do step-ups and squats and the like.

"We have also been doing stick and ball work in our back gardens and this is the sort of thing that is happening in every other hockey nation as they prepare for Tokyo, so we are no different in that respect.

"Most of us are 'home gym-ing', to coin a phrase, and we have also been having small group video calls during exercising, doing circuits, yoga or whatever and that helps keep everyone motivated."

Belfast Telegraph