THE global coronavirus pandemic has prevented a Woking masters athlete from competing for a podium place in European championships.

Kim Valente has been training for the European Masters Athletics Championships, which was scheduled for 15-21 March in Braga, Portugal, but has now been postponed until January next year because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kim, 45, took up the sport four years ago after a 26-year break and has been winning medals in long jump and 60m sprint.

She has recently been told that she is third in the world in her age bracket in the long jump, meaning that she had a good chance of at least a bronze medal in Braga.

Like all masters athletes, aged 35 and over, Kim is self-funding as so has lost money already spent on the European championships, which were cancelled just weeks before the event.

The uncertainty has meant she is not planning to go to the world championships in Toronto, Canada, in the summer because of the risk of losing more money.

She said she had been planning towards Braga for the past two years, and was tapering down her training.

Kim’s training has gone so well that she recently won the gold medal in long jump and silver in the 60m sprint at the British Masters Athletics Championships, at Lee Valley in London. She also won the long jump gold medal at the British Masters Outdoors Athletics Championships in 2018.

“I am so happy I ended the outdoor season on a high and am now preparing for the outdoor season, which begins in April,” Kim said.

The European masters championships usually alternates between indoor and outdoor events on alternate years, but the postponement of the Braga meeting means that both will be held in 2021.

“It will be difficult to turn the training around as they are quite different,” Kim said.

When not training or competing on the masters circuit, Kim runs Squat2Fit sessions, which began with other mums of children at St Dunstan’s Primary School.

She and nine others from the group are training for the 5k-13 Obstacles Tough Mudder Challenge in London. Originally scheduled for 9 May, the event has now been postponed to 19 September.

They are raising money for Shooting Star Children’s Hospice and have already raised £968, smashing their £500 target.