TT’s first-ever Olympic-bound female cyclist, Teniel Campbell, has described eerie scenes throughout the streets of Italy as a result of the extensive outbreak of covid19 in the world’s second most affected country.
The 22-year-old currently plies her professional trade with the Italian-based women’s road cycling team Valcar Travel & Service and expressed a myriad of feelings regarding her presence there during this pandemic.
On Wednesday, the number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy had risen by 475 in one day to nearly 3,000 – the biggest increase since the outbreak. Italy is the globe's worst affected country after China and many restrictions have been imposed on its citizens in an attempt to quell the spread.
Campbell has been in Europe since December 2019 and shared her emotional experience from her Italian location on Wednesday.
“When I go outside, it’s like a zombie apocalypse. Everyone with face masks and gloves. You see the fear amongst the people. I am not comfortable and get anxiety from time to time. It’s not normal to constantly hear the ambulance up and down the roads. There are lines to go inside the supermarket as they only allow a certain amount of people at a time, the same goes for the pharmacy.”
The Perfection Services Limited representative is however, still allowed to train outdoors, once she wears her customary athletic protective gear and a mask. The team limits its outdoor activity but cyclists must train with a partner if necessary. They also train indoors.
Valcar Travel & Service also provided its members with the required documents to prove they are pro cyclists just in case riders are stopped by the police. This is due to an increase in the presence of protective services as an additional precautionary measure.
“When I go outdoors to train, I am always with another teammate who lives nearby. The coach insists I must always train with her and two other guys. It is safer this way. The roads are quieter but we still meet ignorant drivers who apparently are unaware that we are still allowed to train on the roads,” she added.
When asked if she fared better in TT, Campbell denounced the idea and declared airports as one of the main contributors of coronavirus. She was even allowed an opportunity to travel home by her club before the airports closed off recently, but refused. The Vuelta CV Féminas (Spain) third-place finisher remains optimistic amidst the global pandemic.
“I do not want to come home but even if I wanted to, I think it just increases my chances of attaining the virus as it’s a long transfer. The virus is everywhere and affecting everyone. Several things go through my mind on a daily basis but I try to live in the moment and not stress over things I cannot control. It allows me to cope better under the circumstances,” she continued.
Campbell believes she needs to remain strong in this time of crisis since she is thousands of miles away from her closest family member. According to the double Pan American gold medallist, all races have been suspended for the next couple weeks and will resume when the situation normalises.
“This situation showed me how much I have matured as an individual. I often found myself calming down those panicking around me including one of my former team-mates from the World Cycling Center. She is in Spain. She couldn’t believe how I still had a smile on my face and was not nervous and panicking like her. However, ‘knock on wood’, if I so happen to crack, I have a psychologist on standby,” Campbell concluded.