Olympic champion Kipyegon looking forward to return to normalcy

Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon celebrates with the Kenyan flag after winning the final of the women's 1,500m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 7, 2017. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

Kenya’s 1,500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon says she is eagerly looking forward to when conditions will improve to allow the resumption of athletics competitions.

Kipyegon, who returned to action in 2019 after taking time off to have her child, was hoping for a strong 2020 season by dominating the Diamond League and staging a strong defence of her Olympic crown in Tokyo. However, she has been unable to compete since the season started as the global sports calendar has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was doing very well in training in Eldoret, but that has been destroyed by the coronavirus pandemic which has halted sports globally. Though even that will not wear me out,” Kipyegon said on Tuesday from Eldoret.

“I always look forward to fighting my way to the top and even this pandemic will not slow me down. What is important at the moment is to stay safe and healthy.”

Both the Diamond League and World Athletics Continental Tour competitions have been pushed back while training camps in Kenya have been shut down. This has forced Kipyegon to retreat back to be with her family offering her more time to bond with her daughter.

“My daughter is what inspires me. I want the best for her, to see her excel. It feels good being close to my baby every day after finishing my workouts,” Kipyegon added.

“My body has responded well, though the training is not too demanding. I have no injury worries,” she added.

Kipyegon won a silver medal on her return to action at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar last year and she feels she returned to competition a year too early. Now she believes she is strong to challenge for gold and reclaim her crown.

In her absence, Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan has risen to global recognition. The Ethiopian-born Dutch middle- and long-distance runner won two gold medals at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

She also won the 1500 metres and 10,000 metres events, becoming the only athlete in history to win both events at a single World Championships or Olympic Games.

“With top form, I was ready for the fight with my opponents in the Diamond League and the Olympics. I miss serious athletics competitions, the stadium atmosphere, the adrenaline and challenge. But we will overcome. I don’t know if we will be able to compete in 2020. Anytime we are called to action, I will be ready,” Kipyegon said.

That uncertainty, the long lull, is what leaves Kipyegon with more doubts.

“For athletes, we plan and that has been taken from us. You train, but with no idea when to run it is frustrating.

“Training consecutively for over three months, or six months will be hard. For now, the best plan is to plan to be fit and know that sports may not be allowed in 2020,” Kipyegon added.

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