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Home SPORT Athletics Ready, steady... oh: Olympics, Glastonbury and Euro 2020 stars on the summer...

Ready, steady… oh: Olympics, Glastonbury and Euro 2020 stars on the summer we’ve lost

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Olympic Games, postponed from July to July 2021

Katarina Johnson-Thompson at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, October 2019. Photograph: Getty Images for IAAF

I came home to Liverpool as soon as Covid-19 happened. I would normally be in France now, getting ready. I’ve lived there since 2016, and my whole life has been training. Not going to Tokyo has been devastating, and what I’ve struggled with most is motivation. I know how fortunate I am to do what I love, but it’s hard when you have nothing to look forward to for 16 months.

I’m a heptathlete, but high jump is my passion. That’s how I started, aged 10, breaking a school record that had stood for 25 years. There’s something crazy about high jump, something so mentally satisfying when you clear a personal best. You just put your foot out and jump: you can’t overthink it.

I was 11 when I joined the Liverpool Harriers, and 2012 was my first Olympics. When I moved to France, it was hard with the language barrier; I moved away from my family, my boyfriend, my dogs. For ages, I was the only British athlete there. At the moment, I’m just trying to enjoy having nothing to do all day, enjoying my family time, time with my boyfriend, who is a hurdler. I’ll have to get back to France as soon as I can and spend more time training. You only feel what you have lost, in your form, when you return to the track.

I’ve been thinking about every sport, and every country. Everyone is going to be affected differently; there will be different Olympic champions next year than there would have been this year. As an athlete, you have to refocus, reflect, replan. It’s my livelihood, and these are my dreams – but at the same time, it’s just postponed. It’s not over.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson is a brand ambassador for Müllerlight.


Glastonbury, postponed from now to June 2021

Mabel performing in Manchester, November 2019

Mabel performing in Manchester, November 2019. Photograph: Getty Images

I’m not crazy about festivals, but I’ve always loved Glastonbury. It’s unlike anywhere else, the energy is so different. My family [mother Neneh Cherry and father Cameron McVey] are religious attendees. I’ve seen Beyoncé, Coldplay, Radiohead. Watching those people I’d always think, this is what I want to do.

Last year was my first year of playing main stages at festivals and I started wondering if I might get to play Glasto. When the offer to play the Other stage came in, my manager knew I was going to be gassed and say yes straight away. As it was the 50th anniversary, it felt like an even bigger honour.

Since then I’ve been imagining my set. I wouldn’t have held back on the drama; it would have been a big, fun, glossy pop performance. I was dreaming of pyrotechnics. My outfit would have been something colourful and sparkly, with a reveal moment.

As it’s Glastonbury, I wanted my set to be: banger, banger, banger, banger – really keep the energy up. I was excited to play my new song Boyfriend. I put it out and then went into lockdown, so I have no idea how people would react to it live. Thankfully, I’ll still get to perform next year, but I’ve had to accept that this won’t be the summer I dreamed of.

I’m trying to keep my mind active, and have been using this time to think about what story I’m going to tell on my next album. As much as it’s a shame that I won’t get to perform at Glastonbury 2020, it gives me more than a year to come up with songs that will get everyone even more excited.

Petra Kvitová

Wimbledon, postponed from next week to June 2021

Petra Kvitová at the Czech Tennis President’s Cup charity tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, May 2020.

Petra Kvitová at the Czech Tennis President’s Cup charity tournament in Prague, Czech Republic in May this year. Photograph: EPA

When I won myfirst Wimbledon in 2011, I was very young – only 21. I didn’t even know how massive that was. Winning the second one in 2014 was deeper, and I was much happier – celebrating it and really feeling it.

I was expecting Wimbledon to be cancelled, but it was still extremely upsetting. I’m always very grateful to be part of such a beautiful tournament. I came back to the Czech Republic from the US in March because the events there were cancelled, and put myself in quarantine for two weeks. It wasn’t mandatory but I wanted my friends and family to be safe. I was very glad to have that chance to be at home and do the things I don’t normally do, like clear out my wardrobe. After that, I started to exercise on my small fitness set-up at home.

In the Czech Republic, it’s getting better every week. We’ve been able to play tennis for a while, and now we can go out to restaurants. Everything is getting back to normal. We even have some tournaments, so there are small challenges. But it’s kind of sad. If your heart isn’t in the practice, you accept that you’re not going to play well.

The hardest thing is motivation, which drops off a lot. Normally, we’re always preparing for a tournament. Yet you still have to keep at it, just for your body, so you don’t have a huge gap when you get back.

I’m 30. This is the age where, if someone says you have to take six months off, you wonder what the future will look like. It’s different for those who are 20. But then, I’m glad that I already won two grand slams, so I’m not in the same huge rush.

Harry Kane

Euro 2020, postponed from now to June 2021

Harry Kane at the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Kosovo, November 2019

Harry Kane at the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Kosovo, November 2019. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Going into the Euros, we were ready to apply the lessons of the 2018 World Cup, which had given us a lot of confidence when it comes to playing on a big stage. We didn’t quite win, but we proved that we could get to a huge semi-final.

With the team we had, and the confidence we’d gained, we were ready for the Euros. The whole squad was gutted when they were postponed, especially because the semi-finals and finals were at Wembley. That’s as close to a home tournament as a lot of the players are ever going to get; it would have been massive. We know how good the England fans are, at home and away – our Nations League victory against Croatia was just a taste. To have had Wembley rocking would have created an unbelievable atmosphere, and we’d have used that to our advantage.

Our biggest competition would have been France, who are reigning World Cup champions, as well as Belgium and Spain, who both have great teams. We don’t have any pre-match rituals, but when we arrive at the stadium the whole team go out to the pitch for five minutes, just to get a feeling for it. It helps settle our nerves. We can beat anyone on our day, and that’s what we were going to try to do.

Players’ lifestyles change during the Euros, but this year would have been different because a lot of the games were at Wembley, so we’d have been able to see our families. During the World Cup in Russia, we were in our hotel for a long period and couldn’t see anyone. My wife was pregnant so couldn’t be there, and six weeks away from your family is tough. Obviously, there’s more pressure playing at home. But in 2021 we’ve got to take that, use it and feed off the crowd. I can’t wait.

Dizzee Rascal

Glastonbury, postponed from now to June 2021

Dizzee Rascal at O2 Academy Brixton, London in 2017.

Dizzee Rascal at the O2 Academy Brixton, London in 2017. Photograph: WireImage

I got a home studio in November, just before all this happened. It’s made me sit down and go deep into production, setting up my own equipment, recording myself for the first time. When you’re in there on your own you can really perfect it. And, yeah, the timing has been good.

I was supposed to play Glastonbury this year. At this point they need to hurry up and just let me headline that thing. Those sets I played on the Pyramid stage [in 2010 and 2013], got me a headlining reaction – bigger than the actual headliners. That’s the thing about my sets – there’s not a lot of downtime, not a lot of dip, it’s just energy all the way through.

I’ve got some fans who are very vocal that they don’t like my work from 2010 [Bonkers went to No 1 the year before]. Then you’ve got other people who love it, but don’t necessarily know the early stuff – so a big part of planning would be getting that balance. But one thing I like about coming back to the festival each year, it’s always the young ones at the front. As much as I appreciate the fanbase that have followed me from the beginning, it’s the younger ones who have the energy to be smashed around by the bass, standing right in front of the speakers.

When the first shows started getting cancelled, I just accepted it: that’s that, then. My thing is, the sun’s out and I’m not dead. So I’m not too stressed out. There are a lot more important things going on for other people. Live shows will come back but I can still go on the radio, my album’s still coming out, I can still reach people. I’m surprised at how positive I’m feeling.

Radio was the original communication – in wartime, when this country was being bombed. Now everyone’s listening to it again. It just shows you that in dire times, you get back to the original medium, the fundamentals. Before I did festivals, before I did raves, I did pirate radio. No one knew what I looked like, people listened to sets, taped it and the tape would get passed around. Coming from that has made me realise I can deal with whatever’s happening.

James Newman

Eurovision song contest, postponed from May to May 2021

James Newman in February this year.

James Newman in February this year. Photograph: BBC/PA

I was asked to be the UK’s Eurovision entry last November. I never imagined I’d be able to represent my country in front of 200 million people – it’s like being in the Olympics of singing.

Some die-hard Eurovision fans had done a breakdown of what songs tend to do well – what tempo, which keys – so I knew what I was aiming for with my entry. I also wanted something anthemic, with a nice message, but lyrically simple enough for 41 countries to understand. In January, I went to Scotland with three friends who are songwriters. When we came up with My Last Breath, I knew it was the one. We played it all the way home.

In February, I went to Poland to shoot the video, featuring the ice water swimmer Wim Hof, and then my diary started filling up, with performances planned in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. I was going to have a big cube which looked as if it was full of water, and which would flood the stage during the performance.

My mum had a book when we were kids called The Secret, all about visualising your goals. I’d been vividly imagining exactly what it would be like to be sitting in the booth with a cold glass of champagne when I heard the hosts announce my name as the winner. I’d lie in bed imagining it, and get a rush of adrenaline that would stop me getting to sleep.

When I heard the contest wasn’t happening, I was heartbroken. According to the rules, I’m allowed to compete next year, but I’d have to write a new song. The world will be very different. I’ve been writing away in lockdown, but I’m trying to look past the current situation, towards something more hopeful.

James Newman’s latest track, Better Man, is out now

Jayde Adams

Edinburgh festival fringe, postponed from August to August 2021

Jayde Adams performing at Latitude festival, July 2018.

Jayde Adams performing at Latitude festival, July 2018. Photograph: WireImage

My first year at the Fringe was 2011, about four months after my sister died (I was very carpe diem that year). I was working as a waitress in Cardiff and a dancer asked if I wanted to do a 15-minute comedy insert in her show. At that point, I was telling everyone I was a comedian, but I was sort of lying. We did the show for 10 days and I improved with every performance. Afterwards I gigged all over the country; turns out I was pretty good.

For the next four years I went to the Fringe with compilation shows. In 2016, I did my first hour-long solo show, which was nominated for best newcomer. In 2017, I did an experimental show about loneliness, but last year I stopped thinking I was going to reinvent the wheel. I got rid of the musical, clowny elements and did a standup show about feminism from a working-class woman’s perspective. I should probably try to be humble – but I smashed it. I got great reviews and the show was turned into an Amazon Prime special. A clip of me talking about Kylie Jenner has had 45m views on TikTok. I used to work in Asda!

My new show was about identity, but I don’t want to give too much away. I won’t be doing a show about lockdown – imagine how many there will be, probably called My Corona.

At the moment it’s hard to joke about. My boyfriend is a comedian who relies solely on the circuit, and that’s gone. There’s that equation, “tragedy plus time equals comedy”. I didn’t do my show about my sister until five years after she’d died. It takes time for things that are difficult to be funny.

But there is a silver lining to the festival being cancelled. This will be the first time in nine years that I’ll be able to celebrate my best friend’s and my dad’s birthdays with them.

Jade Jones

Olympic Games, postponed from July to July 2021

Jade Jones after winning a gold medal at the 2019 World Taekwondo championships in Manchester.

Jade Jones after winning a gold medal at the 2019 World Taekwondo championships in Manchester. Photograph: Getty Images

You get such a buzz gearing up for the Olympics. I was getting ready to make history [as the first British female to win three consecutive gold medals]. A year is a long time to wait, especially as I’m getting older.

After lockdown, I had to take as much kit as I could and train in my garage at home. We matted it all out, transformed it – and had complaints from the neighbours for the screaming and shouting. Now we’re allowed to train, but only with housemates and the coach in a mask, which is a bit eerie.

I’ve won each Olympics for a different reason. At 19, I was young and had no fear. The second one, I was wiser and more mentally strong, which is better, taekwondo-wise. It’s hard to keep your same hunger and fight, but I think because I’ve got such a big challenge ahead, I will be able to keep my fire. Whoever is there next year, I’ll be ready. Hopefully, because it’s a year away, all the big lanky people will have eaten too much and won’t be able to make the weight.

The hardest bit about lockdown is not being able to see my family. I’m in Manchester and they are in Flint, so I used to go home most weekends. I do all this to make them proud, so it is a little bit demotivating. Most people will win and then retire. When I win, I get greedy and think, could I win one more? And with the Olympics in 2021, it’ll only be three years till the next one.

Jade Jones is an Optimum Nutrition brand ambassador.

Kadeena Cox

Paralympic Games, postponed from August to August 2021

Kadeena Cox at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Kadeena Cox at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Photograph: Getty Images

When the Paralympics first got postponed, it was nice to know, because we’d been in limbo. Not knowing was when it was hardest to keep my foot on the gas.

To look on the bright side, I’ve got an extra year to prepare. I’ve had Achilles tendon injuries for the last four or five years and never had time to rehab properly. I’m still living in the same place, but it’s a very different life. It’s just me and my dog, Minnie. I bought her in December, thinking it was probably bad timing with the Games less than a year away. But it was the best purchase ever.

I catch up with my coaches on Zoom and I’ve been out on the road since we’ve been able to exercise for more than an hour. I didn’t see my family for 14 weeks. I don’t see anyone from training. I’ve quite enjoyed, for the most part, just cracking on, but I’m starting to go a bit stir crazy. There was a point when I wanted to take up a physio post in the hospitals, to take the load off. But someone said: “You are a bit at extra risk yourself, so that’s probably not such a good idea.”

When the Games do happen, they are going to be the light at the end of the tunnel, a way for the world to celebrate coming out of this. However we do it, even without any crowds at all, the support is going to be amazing.

Kadeena Cox is a brand ambassador for Müller.

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