Australian middle-distance star Morgan Mitchell and her training partner Nana Owuse-Afriyie have become unwitting victims of Collingwood's return to training amid the COVID-19 crisis.
With AFL clubs banned from training together for the past couple of months, Mitchell and Owusu-Afriyie have made use of the running track that encircles the oval at the Magpies’ Holden Centre base.
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But that unofficial arrangement came to an end on Monday morning when they were ordered away by a security guard.
According to Fox Sports: “Two Collingwood midfield groups were training at the time – at opposite ends of the field – but Mitchell and her team were not impressed when a security guard instructed them to take their session elsewhere.”
A onlooker told Fox Sports Mitchell “made a scene, as did this other athlete. They were being quite rude.”
“At one stage Mitchell said words to the effect of ‘Olympics are just as important as football club training’.”
Mitchell’s coach reportedly told the security guard they were free to train there because it was a public oval.
However AFL clubs have exclusive access to their training facilities when they need them.
The onlooker told Fox Sports Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley tried to reasons with the runners, to no avail.
“A Collingwood supporter tried to reason with them but they spoke back to the fan too,” the onlooker said.
“That was as they were leaving. They had quite a bit of attitude.”
AFL clubs return to training under restrictions
Ahead of the June 11 restart to the AFL season, players are now allowed to train in modified groups of eight while following strict biosecurity protocols.
Those restrictions will be further relaxed on May 25, but players will still face daily health checks and twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.
Mitchell, 25, was a semi-finalist in the 800m at last year's world athletics championships in Doha.
Owusu-Afriyie, 21, made her senior international debut in Doha as a member of the Australian 4x100m relay team.
Meanwhile, Buckley says Collingwood are willing to fly more often during the coronavirus-affected AFL season in order to share the travel burden with rival clubs.
The Magpies are often derided by opposition supporters for their relatively light travel schedule, particularly in comparison to non-Victorian clubs.
But with clubs from Western Australia and South Australia forced into Queensland hubs to restart the 2020 season, Buckley is in a charitable mood.
“(Victorian clubs) are probably going to be in a position to share that travel load a little bit more to buffer, in particular, the WA and South Australian clubs in their predicament of going into hubs,” Buckley told Fox Footy on Tuesday night.
“I would put our hand up to travel a little more often to be able to buffer that and to share that load through the 10 Victorian clubs that probably haven't had to travel as much at times.
“I think that would probably be something that we would see (this season).”