ALICE Hopkins admits the psychological impact of training under lockdown has been difficult to deal with.

The Oxford City AC star was eyeing a big step forward in 2020, with places at the World Indoor Championships and European Championships among her targets.

But the coronavirus pandemic meant that, like all athletes, the 21-year-old’s calendar quickly cleared.

The extent of her training was soon spent in her local park and at home in Thame, until Oxford City opened up their track for one-hour sessions a fortnight ago.

Strict social distancing guidelines are in place, but Hopkins reveals the change has done her the world of good.

She said: “I was finding it very difficult mentally at the start.

“I was training on my own, with no motivation from a coach or my training partners.

“But for the past week I’ve been at the track. It’s been such a big difference, even just being able to properly measure my distances.

“It’s nice that I can socially distance but also have a chat with people, so I see I’m not the only one that isn’t progressing as they should be.”

The abrupt suspension to the athletics calendar came weeks after Hopkins landed a huge victory.

In February, she claimed long jump gold at the European Indoor Championships in Vienna – her distance of 6.13m more than half-a-metre further than her nearest rival.

Hopkins hoped that triumph would propel her to a third consecutive long jump title at the England Under 23 Championships and a spot at the European Championships in Paris this August.

The latter event was still going ahead more than a month after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was postponed, but was eventually cancelled in April.

Hopkins said: “I was still hoping for Paris because it’s not as big as the Olympics and quite late in the season.

“It became clear throughout the weeks that followed that it probably wasn’t going to happen.

“It was absolutely for the best.”

The championships were the next target for Hopkins, with the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2024 Olympics further down the line.

England Athletics has currently suspended all competitions until June 30, but while her overall goal remains the same, the rising star is happy to temporarily put competitions to one side.

She said: “Everything is so up in the air, so I don’t think I’d be able to tailor my training.

“It would have been lovely to try to retain my Under 23 title, but obviously health comes first and there’s bigger things out there at the moment.”

Hopkins added: “It’s a good thing to be fair, because I have an extra year.

“I’m quite young, so having another year to get stronger, train more and work on more technical aspects is a good thing.”