Kenya and Norway set for virtual athletics battle

All is set for a long-dsitance showdown between Kenya and Norway at the Impossible Games next month
Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot (R) and Kenya’s Ronald Kwemoi compete in the Men’s 1500m final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on October 6, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

All is set for a long-dsitance showdown between Kenya and Norway at the Impossible Games taking place next month. The race will be held in the memory of the late Maurie Plant, who was one of the most significant figures in Australian and world athletics.

Plant died on January 19 this year at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne after being on life support for three weeks. He had suffered multiple strokes and kidney failure. The 66-year-old was a former agent, team manager and BBC broadcaster.

Team Cheruiyot will be led by middle-distance star and reigning 1500m Diamond League Champion Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya. He will be joined by 2017 world champion in the 1,500m and reigning African 1,500m champion Elijah Manang’oi as well as 800m specialist Edwin Meli.

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Team Ingebrigsten is made up of three Norweigian brothers, Jakob, the European 1,500m and 5,000m champion and Henrik and Filip, who are currently training in Norway.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amina Mohammed disclosed that the virtual race that pits Kenya against Norway, will see the two teams battle it out in an innovative new format over 2000 metres at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi and the Bislett Stadium in Oslo, Norway respectively.

“The race will be staged simultaneously at the two cities with the two teams not getting to meet each other owing to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Amina while unveiling Team Cheruiyot at the Nyayo National Stadium.

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Oslo Diamond League meeting director Steinar Hoen has described the race as “the first virtual race at such a level in the history of athletics”. Both teams will start with five runners and end with three, and the winner will be the team with the best overall time from their top three runners.

A Wanda Diamond League exhibition event, the Impossible Games was conceived by Bislett Games organizers to allow this year’s Oslo Diamond League meeting go ahead under Norway’s coronavirus regulations.

Instead of the usual, elite-level hunt for Diamond League points, the Impossible Games will instead showcase the innovative spirit of athletics with a series of set-piece exhibition events.

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Beyond the 2000m battle, the programme is taking shape for the Games, which will take place at Bislett Stadium on June 11.

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