NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 28 – Despite the effects of the novel coronavirus pushing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021, reigning Marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge is still focused on a page in the history books as he looks to become only the third person to defend the title.
Kipchoge clinched gold in Rio 2016, becoming the second Kenyan to win the Olympic marathon after the late Samwel Wanjiru. He clocked 2hrs, 08mins and 44secs to clinch the gold on the streets of Rio ahead of Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lelisa and American Gallen Rupp.
In Tokyo, he looks to become the third person in Olympic history to win back to back Marathon titles after Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila who won in 1960 and 1964 as well as German Waldemar Cierpinski who won in 1976 and 1980.
“It will be a great thing, and it will be a great addition on my CV. If all goes well next year 2021, I’ll defend my title in marathon in a competitive field and a good time,” Kipchoge said, speaking in an exclusive interview to the Olympic Channel.
With the effects of the coronavirus grinding the world of sports to unprecedented halts, Kipchoge has been forced to adjust to new training regimes outside his norm at the Kaptagat Training camp and he has had to divide his time between enjoying playful days with his children and maintaining fitness.
Kipchoge often shares adorable videos of him playing around with his kids in the front-yard, chasing them around and playing football.
Just like the strong mentality he has, Kipchoge says he has adjusted with the conditions of minimized training but is optimistic of better days ahead.
“These are really strange times in sports in general, especially for us runners who were already in very good shape. At this time, every other weekend the top cities would be staging the big city marathons.”
“But marathons are like life, we have flat courses, downhill and hilly courses. Now we are on a hilly course, this is the hardest of times. And like in a marathon that’s when you are struggling to go up the hill,” he further said on his interview with the Olympic Channel.
This past Sunday, Kipchoge should have been strutting down the streets of London racing against Kenenisa Bekele, the man who beat him to gold in the 5000m final at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
It was billed to be the race of the decade with Kenenisa having come within two seconds of his world record at last year’s Berlin Marathon and Kipchoge still basking in the glory of becoming the first man to ever run the marathon in under two hours.
But with the race postponed to September because of the coronavirus, the two athletics legends substituted the duel on the road to a chat organized by their management over Skype as they checked on each other from Addis and Eldoret respectively.
“I am doing well just staying with my family at home,” Bekele told Kipchoge from Addis, with the Kenyan legend also updating on his situation back at home, also enjoying time with the family.
“I am really missing my teammates at the camp. It is now 36 days since we are at home, I am just training in isolation, jogging in the morning to keep my body fit. There is no real training because track is closed, it is not allowed to train in a group. It is hard but our health is priority number one,” Kipchoge said on his situation in Nairobi before concluding, “We will meet at the end of the year.”
Apart from racing each other in London in September, a grand competition is expected between the two of them at the Olympics with Kipchoge also listed in Ethiopia’s team.