For the 50th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Elton De Souza. Elton is a 29-year-old world champion inline speed skater living between Bordeaux, France and Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. He was the 2017 World Games champion in Nanjing, China, a 25 time champion in France, 7 time champion in Europe and 9 time medalist at the world championships.

What are you doing in Cuba and what is the current situation with COVID-19 there?

I have been in Cuba with my wife since January, arriving before the coronavirus pandemic. I came for a training camp in Havana and to attend the National Championships in Cienfuegos. We wanted to go back to France in March but World Skate announced that a new big marathon would be taking place on April 5th in Lima, Perú, so we changed our tickets to be able to attend. Then the COVID-19 outbreak happened and everything changed, resulting in us having to stay here. We have been living in Sancti Spíritus ever since, but plan on returning to France in July.

Cuba has taken a lot of measures to fight the virus, but with less than 2000 case in the entire country as of May 12th, it appears infections are contained and I no longer feel in danger. New cases have fallen to less than 20 a day from a peak of around 50 in April. The government closed Cuba’s borders, tourism, schools, public transportation, restaurants and bars have been closed and social gatherings are prohibited. People have been urged to stay at home and practice social distancing.

Are you following what’s been happening in France with COVID-19?

Yes, I follow what is happening in France on the news and my family and friends tell me things are very complicated there.

Are you still skating?

We stopped skating entirely between April 10th and May 10th because the government issued a stay-at-home order and also closed the track. I was training hard before they canceled all the races, but am taking it easy until I find out if the World Championships, at the end of the year, are still be happening or not. I’ve gone out skating a couple of times since the stay-at-home order was lifted, but just for an hour of skating slowly down the road. I felt so sad without my skates this past month!

Are you doing any cross training?

I’ve been biking, running and doing home exercises to keep in shape.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

During my free time I read, watch television series and movies and sometimes play video games. I’m also teaching my wife how to speak French. I live with my wife here in Cuba, we were married last year to be able to stay together all the time. She is Cuban, so it was not easy to get together often before we were married. We had to wait a long time to see each other, so now we really enjoy the time we have together.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

Everything here closed and we stayed at home all day during the lockdown. Training and exercise were the only times we would go outside. We couldn’t celebrate our birthdays and still cannot go to the beach or to the mountains. The lockdown has restricted some of our plans, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been living very well. However it was extremely difficult for me during the first few days when I realized that I could not compete in any races after training so hard. As the days went on the pressure I was experiencing went away, allowing me to stay happy and calm.

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

I hope we can skate in the Worlds competition, but if not we will take time to breath, play pétanque and try to enjoy life this summer.

How is the skate community in Cuba responding to the pandemic?

Everybody has been ordered to stay-at-home and to wear masks when we go outside, so skating completely stopped here.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Good luck to everybody in this extraordinary time and let’s see the positive, because there is always positive things, even in the worst shit like Corona virus…

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