Why Tokyo 2020 postponement is a blessing for Manangoi


Kenya's Elijah Motonei Manangoi celebrates winning the final of the men's 1500m athletics event at ...
(FILE)Kenya's Elijah Motonei Manangoi celebrates winning the final of the men's 1500m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS

In Summary

  • The postponement of this year's Tokyo Olympics came as a blessing in disguise to former 1500m world champion Elijah Manangoi, as he now has time to train and recover fully from an injury which denied him a chance to defend the world title which he won at the 2017 World Athletics Championship in London.
  • The 27-year-old missed the 2019 Doha Worlds with an ankle injury which he picked in training, and was racing against time to be fit for the Japan showpiece, though his chances appeared very remote.
Philip Muchiri in Nairobi

The postponement of this year’s Tokyo Olympics came as a blessing in disguise to former 1500m world champion Elijah Manangoi, as he now has time to train and recover fully from an injury which denied him a chance to defend the world title which he won at the 2017 World Athletics Championship in London.

The 27-year-old missed the 2019 Doha Worlds with an ankle injury which he picked in training, and was racing against time to be fit for the Japan showpiece, though his chances appeared very remote.

However, thanks to Covid -19 pandemic, he has abundant time to recover and hit shape, in preparation for future assignments.

The global pandemic has shut global sports leading to the postponement of the Tokyo Games as well as other sporting events.

“I was trying to rush with my coach in the gym. I was also doing lots of hill work and speed work so that I can register good time for qualification to the Olympics, but by then, I would say, I had recovered up to 70 percent and the postponement is a blessing in disguise; it has given me more time to prepare so I’m happy,” Manangoi enthused.

He says despite the partial lockdown in the country and closure of Athletics training camps due to the pandemic, he’s done his best to remain fit, as he has never overcome missing Doha 2019.

“I have never stopped training especially the morning run and speed work; the coach keeps in touch every time. At the moment I’m doing well though not at 100 percent,” he said, adding:  “I can say I have maintained the shape I had in camp.”

He is however optimistic of returning to camp as early as next month if the situation in the country improves.

“My hope is for the Government to lift the lockdown early next month so that we can go back to normal training because the calendar is out and we need time to train.  Its only two months to prepare before the season begins in August and an athlete need more time to prepare; my hope is for the pandemic to end,” he concluded.

With Manangoi’s absence at Doha, another Kenyan, Timothy Cheruiyot ran 3:29.26, finishing more than two seconds clear of anyone else to claim the cherished gold medal.

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Story By Philip Muchiri
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