IN his 1962 speech on the future of space travel, President Kennedy told students and staff of Rice University about the story of the British explorer George Mallory.

Mallory would eventually die on Mount Everest, but it had always been his dream to try to climb it. When asked ‘Why?’, he would give a simple answer: “Because it is there”.

Guy Learmonth has a similar attitude. While many of his fellow athletes have been complaining about the logistics of holding the 2022 world championships, Commonwealth Games and then European championships in the space of a six-week stretch, the 800m runner is instead viewing it as a chance to take part in an unprecedented summer trilogy never likely to be repeated.There will undoubtedly be difficulties, even just getting from Eugene in the United States to Birmingham and then to Munich (below) in time. But rather than moan about it, Learmonth has set his sights on trying to compete in all three. Simply because they are there.

“Of course it will be chaotic,” he admits. “But let’s not be Debbie Downers about everything now. Let’s be optimistic and positive about the whole thing. It’s going to be an almighty task having three major championships within five or six weeks. It’s crazy and it will be hugely difficult.

“And, yes, there will be jetlag and a lot of other demands. It could mean nine rounds of racing if I reach each of the finals. It’s a crazy, crazy task but I’m up for the challenge. I always embrace the chaos!

“That in itself is motivating. How do we get it right? How do we plan training to peak at the right time? I never want to go to a major championship just to get the tracksuit. I want to get medals. If I go to these three events, I want three medals. That’s how I see it. It will be difficult but it’s exciting. Some people won’t be physically able to do all three. And it will be mentally draining. But I want a crack at it.”

The sour-faced reaction from some of his peers was enough to draw Learmonth out from his self-imposed ban from Twitter to urge others to adopt a more positive approach during these difficult times.

“I always like to look at something as glass half-full and I feel people are just trying to pick things apart,” he added. “The world isn’t perfect right now and everything has had to get rejigged and restructured.

“We’ve not got a perfect outcome but this is the closest thing to it. Athletes should

get behind it and relish it.

Be excited about racing again! We’re going to go from no racing to racing almost

every week.

“We’ve got the Olympics set in stone for next year and everything re-organised for 2022. And athletes are still moaning! It’s surely time now to try to look at the positives. Sport has the power to influence so many people. I believe it will play a huge part in bringing people back together after all these tough times are over. It’s going to be something that the whole world will enjoy again.”

The 27-year-old is hoping Covid-19 can be contained in time to allow the Olympics to go ahead in Tokyo next summer.

“It was definitely the right decision to postpone. I did wonder if they might have pushed it to 2022 given we don’t know how this virus is going to be even by the end of this year. Will there be a second spike? Or will they find a vaccine by then? We just have to hope the scientists get on top of it by then.

“Of course, it’s heart-breaking that it’s not going ahead this year but I’m glad that decision has been taken. It’s just another 12 months to prepare for it.

“The Olympics is the pinnacle of our sport and many others too. And if it goes ahead next summer as we all hope then it’s going to be a huge celebration of life itself as much as sport. They’re keeping the Olympic torch burning and that for me is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Learmonth is less confident about current plans to hold the British and European championships this August, the latter in Paris.

“I had a chat about this with my team recently and we’re still a bit sceptical about whether this will go ahead. I’m struggling to see how the Europeans can go ahead when we see how hard France has been hit.

“I just can’t see how they can put together a major championship with all the social distancing regulations at the moment. But we’ll wait to see what the experts tell us.”

Learmonth is back in Berwick-upon-Tweed, taking advantage of the quieter streets and the arrival of some new training equipment to keep his fitness levels up just in case.

“I’m back on the streets where I was brought up, so it’s second nature to me doing sessions on the riverfront. Monday morning is our big sprinting session and we’re doing that between parking bays as there’s no traffic on the road outside my house.

“A good man called Duncan Mathieson also ordered me a treadmill so I’ve got that in the gym now – or the dungeon as we call it. And it means I can practise what I preach by doing most of my work indoors.”