News & Updates
Lockdown Lowdown with Tiaan Whelpton
The 2020 New Zealand senior men’s 100m bronze medallist offers a glimpse into his world during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How have you coped with the challenge of being in lockdown?
Lockdown was a far from ideal scenario, but I tried to stay positive. My life wasn’t impacted that much and the small changes I had to make I knew would only be temporary. Even without lockdown I generally spent a lot of time in my room doing my own thing anyway, the only difference now was I didn’t have a choice. I tried to make sure I spent my time well and maintained a good routine.
How has this impacted on your training?
Right before lockdown started, I managed to get together a pretty good home gym, which had everything I needed for my usual gym program, so that side of my training remained relatively the same. Unfortunately, I was not able to access the track and so that side of my training had to be adapted. Training alone wasn’t the easiest for me, I have a really great training squad with a fantastic group of people and I get a lot from the social aspect of training with them. At times during the lockdown period I definitely had to look hard to find motivation.
Have you put in place any innovative methods to maintain fitness?
Due to not having access to a track my coaches (Terry Lomax and Andrew Maclennan) came up with some interesting alternatives. For example, sled pulls were replaced with car pushes and some of our endurance work was done with a skipping rope. The day before we went into level 4, I purchased a boxing bag which was something I used to simultaneously relieve stress and also get a cardio-based workout. I also had to get creative with things around the house in order to replace equipment I no longer had access to, such as using a skateboard in order to do a hamstring exercise.
How has life changed since moving into an alert level 2 in terms of your training?
Since New Zealand moved into a level 2, most things in my life have gone back to normal. I’m back training with my squad right now and I look forward to every session. Uni started back at an alert level 2. It took a while for me to adapt to studying online as the field I’m studying in (Geosciences) is very practical.
What is your current daily routine?
I’m not really much of a morning person but I try to wake up sometime around 8:30-9am, sadly this doesn’t always work though. Once I’ve doused myself in cold water at the end of my shower, I’ll make myself breakfast (which usually contains a large amount of eggs and a fruit smoothie). The next couple hours before lunch I usually try to be productive and get some university work done. Then after I’ve had lunch I relax for a bit and then I’m off to training. When I get back home, I’ll spend some time recovering and then once I’ve had dinner its back to focusing on university work. After I feel like I’ve done a satisfactory amount of work (whether I actually have or not is another story) I’ll kick back, relax and eventually head back to bed.
What has been the best thing about being in lockdown?
Being able to have lots of time to relax and focus on myself as well as pick up a few old hobbies I haven’t touched in a while like playing guitar and drawing. I also enjoyed sleeping a lot as well wearing a bathrobe 90 per cent of the time!
What is the most challenging element to living in lockdown?
I found it tough having the house full. Both my parents work day jobs and I’m an only child, so most of the time I’m home alone and I enjoy this independence and privacy. Our house isn’t the biggest and it felt crowded at times.
What is the most uplifting/inspiring social media post you have read during your time in lockdown?
I really enjoyed reading the uplifting and motivating posts made by the other athletes in New Zealand as well as the various posts made by Nike’s social media team. Watching how other people exercised at home inspired me to do the same.
How often are you in contact with your coach and how do you communicate?
I was regularly in contact with my coaches in some cases to talk about training related things and at other time to seek advice for how to maintain motivation and make sure I’m eating and sleeping properly. We normally communicate either via Facebook Messenger, phone call or the odd awkward video call where they try to make sure I’m doing my exercises correctly.
What has been the best piece of advice he has passed on to you?
Mental health and physical health are dependent on one another, and you need to work on both in order to be a successful athlete.
When full restrictions are over what is the first thing you will do?
One of my closest friends, Marcus Wolton (New Zealand’s senior men’s high jump silver medallist) and I both had our birthdays in the lockdown period. Once the restrictions around how many people you can have at a gathering are lifted we plan to have a joint birthday bash.
What has been your favourite downtime activity in lockdown?
My guilty pleasure would have to be that I do quite enjoy gaming. I built myself a new custom PC at the end of last year and I greatly enjoyed hopping on it and playing games online with my mates throughout lockdown. My other favourite downtime activity was binge watching series on Netflix and trying not to shop online too much!
If you could recommend one book to read in lockdown what would it be and why?
I Am Pilgrim, it’s a great and captivating read and is long enough to keep you busy for a while.
If you could recommend one TV series to watching in lockdown what would it be and why?
If you haven’t yet, I’d definitely recommend watching Breaking Bad. During lockdown I watched it with my parents and they enjoyed every second of it!
If you could recommend one movie to watch in lockdown what would it be and why?
Because I recommended Breaking Bad the obvious answer would be to watch the movie that takes place after the series finishes which is El Camino. I quite enjoy thriller movies and would also recommend watching A Quiet Place. If thrillers aren’t your style, a classic animation like Shrek never fails to amuse me.
What is the kindest thing you’ve done during lockdown?
I spoiled someone I care about a lot with a special birthday gift and some delicious cookies and tried to be supportive to them during a tough time.