Many international sporting events including athletics having been cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Star athletes in Kenya are facing an uncertain future even though they have not suspended their training sessions.
The deadly COVID 19 virus has already pushed global athletics calendar into disarray and cast a huge doubt over preparations for spring road races, marathons, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as Kenya’s athletes say they are only training to keep fit but they are not sure about what the future has in store.
Geoffrey Kamworor, a three-time World Half Marathon champion was headed to his fourth title at the bi-annual event which was to be staged in Gdynia, Poland on March 29, says that athletes have to no option but to train and keep fit.
“Though the coronavirus outbreak has seen races being cancelled or postponed, we are still going ahead with our training but we are not sure when we will compete but we hope the world will contain the outbreak soon,” Kamworor said.
Kenya reported its first case of the virus after a 27 year old woman who had traveled to Nairobi through London tested positive.
World marathon champion Ruth Chepng’etich who is currently preparing for London Marathon says psychologically, she is prepared for the cancellation of the event scheduled for April 26.
“I am having my normal training but psychologically i am also ready for any eventuality. Organizers of The London marathon have not commented on the status of the event but I’m prepared for anything as I already missed half marathon event in Spain which was cancelled last week,” said Chepng’etich.
Bedan Karoki who competed and finished fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon which was held on March 1 this year in an event that was restricted to elite athletes only says its a bad time for the athletes and managers who depend on the competition to make a living.
The Tokyo race on March 1 saw over 38,000 fun runners miss out, due to health and safety fears surrounding the spread of the virus and it is getting messy every day leaving many athletes unsure of when they will race next.
” I’m lucky I competed at my last event two weeks ago, but many runners and managers who depend on races abroad financially are suffering,” Karoki said.
Karori who is based in Japan added athletes are programmed to train for upcoming events they are set take part in, but now they are just training without any knowledge of what will happen next but they pray that the cure or vaccine to the virus is found soon.
Coach Bernard Ouma of Rongai Athletics Club, the home of for world stars including 1,500m world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Commonwealth Games champion Elijah Managoi and Inter-continental champion Winnie Chebet among others says that they are only ‘training to save the face’ as the situation worsens daily.