Rob Darden - BMX and the Coronavirus

When Rob Darden signed on to coach the Chinese Olympic team in 2018, nobody could have possibly predicted the situation he's stuck in right now. Rob is currently in Shenzhen and on lockdown while the country frantically attempts to get the coronavirus epidemic under control. In typical Darden fashion, he seems to be keeping a cool head, but this situation is obviously far from ideal. We caught up with Rob to get an insider perspective on what's really going on...




Where exactly are you right now?

Shenzhen, China. 


Do they have you on lockdown?

Yes. We are on lockdown. The Chinese Cycling Association has us on lockdown. The city does not have any mandatory lockdown or quarantine. 


Who are you with?

I am with the whole team and staff. There are eleven of us total. We are split up between three apartments. 


Does it feel safe?

Yes. It does feel safe.

 

What are the vibes like amongst your crew?

Nothing but good vibes here. Everyone is just getting a little stir-crazy.


Has anyone you're working with been infected by the coronavirus?

I don't know anyone that has been infected.


Is the city pretty much shut down or are people living like normal?

There are a lot of businesses closed, but there are still a lot of people going about their business like a normal day.


So are you basically stuck in China until further notice?

Yes. This is the best situation for us right now. Obviously leaving the country would be ideal, but it's not that easy for the team to just jump on a flight. The visa process is a nightmare and usually takes up to a couple of months to get approved. This is something I deal with every time we go to an event.


I assume nobody is riding at all. Am I right?

This is correct. 

The team hasn't ridden for one month now and this doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon. We are just told to hold tight until further notice.


What are you guys doing to pass the time?

We have some gym equipment in our apartment, so we keep the girls on a strict training program still. Other than that, there is a lot of couch surfing, movies, iPhones, laptops...


I know you were still working on an Olympic push with your ladies. Does this situation shut that down?

It hasn't officially shut it down, but it's really going to make it hard now. We are dealing with a lack of training, events being cancelled, and possible mandatory quarantines trying to attend other events around the world. 


Do your riders seem concerned about the situation?

Yes. They are. But, like any rider, they just want to ride, practice, and have fun.


What's the game plan for the next few months? 

Right now, we will stay in Shenzen for one more month. Then we head to Europe in March to attend some C1 events. From there, we go straight to Japan for the FISE World Cup, then Indonesia for the Asian Continental Championships the weekend after. Then back to China.

 

Are you surprised that the FISE: Puyang event was cancelled?

No. Not at all. You pretty much can't get a flight to China right now. There are mandatory quarantines and the risk is too high. No one is trying to come here. I figured federations around the world would speak up on the situation and it would get cancelled. Now, I'm curious if the Japan FISE event will get postponed or cancelled. As of right now, it's still on. 


Do you think this will effect The Olympics?

I don't think it will effect The Olympics if they can get it under control and the numbers start to consistently drop. But, nobody knows anything. This whole virus thing could spike and shut everything down. 


Should we be concerned about you?

No. I'm all good. We take every precaution to stay safe. Everything is very clean and sanitized. We have no interaction with the public. We have to submit our temperatures every day and we have a full-time chef that lives with us, so our meals are taken care of. 


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