Lots of 'Firsts' on First Day of Athletics Training

Two athletes and a coach stand in front of the stadium in Abu Dhabi.
From Team Vanuatu: athletes Toumaramara Taravaki and Monick Lea Sau, with coach Marinette Twomey at Dubai Police Stadium.

It’s been a day of ‘firsts’ on the first full day of Athletics training in official World Games venues!

Hundreds of athletes from around the world spent the day getting used to the sandy walkways and professional lanes at the Dubai track and field stadium.

The Cayman Islands team trained for hours, including intense calisthenics & ‘shuffling’ drills. Longtime Coach Susan Whittaker said the athletes had been working hard and felt energized by practicing together—ahead of the 100m, 200m, 400m,800m and 1500m run. “We are like one happy family,” she said.

Team Ecuador practiced starts and sprints ahead of the 4x100m relay and other events. They got better and better with each drill.

For Team Kenya, it was a long day. First, the team cheered on Purity Kandie practicing the standing long jump and Catherine Nyaga in the 50m run. Then, it was their turn to cheer the rest of the team on their longer runs, including Onesmus Mutinda, who will compete again in the half marathon. He’s aiming to repeat his stellar performance, when he won gold in the half-marathon at the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles.

Team Fiji—coming to their second World Games—was also training hard, even as athletes grew tired and the sun was going down. Special Olympics USA drilled relay hand-offs late into the evening. Burkina Faso did jump drills under the lights, exhausted but laughing and proud at how well they were doing.

Few teams were as focused as Team Vanuatu, preparing for their first-ever World Games. “Everything is a first for us here,” said Coach Marinette Twomey. “First time away from parents, first time on a plane, first time seeing tall buildings, first time on an escalator—everything!” It was also the first time on an elevator, which was one ‘first’ too many for one athlete. Ahead of today’s practice, the coach found a better alternative—so team members dutifully walked down the 11 floors so their teammate did not have to worry about using the elevator. In the words of the coach, “We are keeping our team spirit strong!”