DUNFERMLINE Track and Field Club's coaching co-ordinator is hopeful that their athletes can enjoy an outdoor season of competition this year.

Like many others across the country, the Pitreavie-based club, which currently has around 120 members, saw track meets hit severely in 2020 because of COVID-19, with restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the virus halting a large number of events.

While they were able to train at times when guidelines from the Scottish Government and Scottish Athletics allowed, much of the sessions athletes took part in were held 'virtually', while online competition also became commonplace.

With Scotland still at level four coronavirus restrictions, all indoor and outdoor meets are suspended, and Vicky Stephen admitted that not having events to prepare for has been a strange experience.

Vicky, who last year was named Coach of the Year for 2019 at the Dunfermline and West Fife Sports Council awards, explained that, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, she was hopeful that competitions could resume later this year.

"We were training but it was a weird situation because we weren't sure what we were actually training for," she said of 2020.

"As a coach, I've never come across this before. I was speaking to a lot of experienced coaches and we were all a bit lost. What are we doing? What sort of sessions do we put in? What is the end goal?

"It was really weird. We are hopefully going to push for a full outdoor season but that will really depend on how things go with the vaccine."

If athletes are able to resume competition this year, Vicky said that significant challenges lay ahead, and continued: "It'll be interesting because a lot of mine missed their second year at under-15 level so they're going straight in as under-17s this year.

"It's a massive jump, especially for some of the younger under-17s; some of them will only be 14 moving into the under-17 category, just with unlucky birthdays.

"They've missed that second year at under-15s so it will be interesting. It's going to be a tough year for everyone but the younger ones are going to find it really tough initially."

Despite the challenges sports clubs have faced over the last 12 months, numbers at Dunfermline Track and Field remain strong, with Vicky adding: "We've actually managed to retain quite a lot of the athletes.

"We've lost just the usuals, kids going off to university, but even some of them have stuck around a little bit longer because they're having to work from home!

"We haven't lost as many as we normally would lose. It's the same every year so we haven't seen a huge difference in the membership, to be honest."