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.
Kenyan star faces long spell on the sidelines
Kenya’s double 800m Olympic champion David Rudisha is set to be sidelined for at least four months after undergoing ankle surgery
Kenya’s double 800m Olympic champion David Rudisha is expected to be sidelined for at least four months after he underwent successful surgery on his left ankle on Thursday after sustaining a fracture.
The 31-year-old, who has not competed in nearly two years due to knee and back injuries, twisted his ankle last week at his rural home in Kilgoris, Kenya.
“During a walk on the compound the 31-year-old stepped on uneven ground, and initially believed it was not a serious injury,” his manager Michele Boateng said in a press statement.
“He continued with exercises that wouldn’t cause further harm to his ankle but after a lack of improvement over the weekend, he underwent an examination and was diagnosed with an ankle fracture at St. Luke’s hospital in Eldoret.
“Rudisha, who is attempting to compete at his third Olympic Games next year, is expected to be out of training for 12 to 16 weeks and hopes to resume rehabilitation after that.
“According to his surgeon and Kenyan team doctor, Dr. Victor Bargoria, it was a left ankle fracture (Supination External Rotation) and he fixated it with a third tubular plate and 3.5mm screws,” his manager said on social media.
Before the Covid-19 related disruptions, the world record holder resumed training in December 2019 and had been training hard in order to become the first man to win three consecutive titles at Tokyo 2020. He is one of only four men to win back-back 800m Olympic titles and had been hopeful that he would be fit to defend his title at the now-postponed Tokyo 2020 Games.
“It’s been very tough handling all these pressures. I want to put everything behind me and start from here, now that the injury is gone and all that is in the past, so that I can improve myself on the track,” he told the Olympic Channel while attending the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
Regarded as the greatest 800-metre athlete of all time, Rudisha smashed the world 800-metre record twice in a span of eight days in 2010. He bettered Kenyan-born Dane Wilson Kipketer’s 13-year record in the two-lap race, posting 1:41.09 in Berlin and a week later in Rieti Italy he clocked 1:41.01.
In the same year, he was as crowned IAAF Athlete of the year for his achievements. At London 2012, Rudisha led from start to finish as he set the world record of 1:40.91.
Lord Sebastian Coe, IAAF president and two-time Olympic 1,500 metre champion, described the run as “the most extraordinary piece of running I have probably ever seen”.
Nairobi leg of World Athletics Continental Tour named Kip Keino Classic
Nairobi leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour has been named the “Kip Keino Classic” in honour of Kenyan legend
The Nairobi leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour has been named the “Kip Keino Classic”. Nairobi race director Barnaba Korir disclosed that apart from the main event being named after legendary former athlete Kipchoge Keino, the 10,000m will be known as the “Naftali Temu 10,000m Classic.”
“Kipchoge is the father of Kenyan athletics and the world knows him more than any Kenyan in athletics,” said Korir adding that naming the 10,000 at the meeting after legendary Temu will inspire Kenyan athletes to go for the Olympic title come the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games next year.
Kipchoge Keino won two gold medals in the 1500 and 5000 metres at the inaugural All-Africa Games in Brazaville in 1965. Later that year, he broke the 5000 m world record held by Ron Clarke, clocking 13 mins 24.2secs.
At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, he won the 1500 metres gold medal (defeating American favourite and world record holder Jim Ryun by 20 metres, the largest winning margin in the history of the event) and 5000 m silver medal. Four years later, he won the 3000 metres steeplechase gold and 1500 metres silver at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. He retired in 1973.
The World Athletics Continental Tour was formed by World Athletics last year as the second tier to the prestigious Diamond League.
The Tour will feature mostly events that have been removed from the Diamond League prime time starting from the inaugural 2020 season. They are 10,000, 5,000, 200m, 3000m steeplechase, discus, hammer and triple jump.
The Continental Tour that has 10 events is divided into three levels – Gold, Silver and Bronze – whose status will be determined by the quality of competition and prize money.
Athletics Kenya plans to stage several meetings starting early August in readiness for the Kip Keino Classic. AK president Jackson Tuwei revealed that if the government relaxes Covid-19 restrictions, they are likely to stage county and regional events before the nationals.
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
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.
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.
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.
Beyond the 2000m battle, the programme is taking shape for the Games, which will take place at Bislett Stadium on June 11.