Athletics: It's race against time for Manangoi

By Dennis Okeyo: Wednesday, February 26th 2020 at 13:24 GMT +3 | Athletics
Elijah Manangoi during training session at Gem International School in Rongai

The former champion has been sidelined with nagging knee injury that forced him out of 2019 World Championships. 

The 2017 world 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi is slowly but surely bouncing back to his old shape after enduring a difficult 2019 season that saw him withdraw from Doha World championships due to a nagging injury.

Manangoi, 27, who is also the Commonwealth Games champion, opted out of Kenya’s team to Doha after battling with an ankle injury, but says he’ll only focus on the Diamond League and 2020 Olympics.

Manangoi lost his world title to compatriot and training mate Timothy Cheruiyot but he is keen to bounce back ahead of Diamond League series and Olympics Games.

Both Manangoi and Cheruiyot have formed a formidable partnership that has seen the duo, that trains at Rongai Athletics Club (RAC), dominate major races since 2017.

As he sets up his preparations towards the Tokyo Games slated for July 24-August 9 in Japan, Manangoi believes last year’s setbacks will fire him to more success this year, just like he did in 2017, when he won a gold medal at the London Championships after a poor show at the 2016 Rio Games.

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“The injury messed me up but injuries are part of sports. I have since shaken it off. It’s in the past now and I can comfortable wear spikes for my speed work. I just want to have a good season,” said Manangoi.

Should Manangoi make the Tokyo team, the Narok County-born athlete believes he has great experience to win medals.

“My hopes of becoming an Olympic champion is still on track. The memories of 2016 Olympics are still fresh. I was in great shape then, but I had to pull out in the semis after suffering an injury. Kenya has good depth in 1500m and I’m sure the Olympics title will come back this year,” said Manangoi.

“I believe I have the strength and experience to challenge for the medal.”

Coach Bernard Ouma, who handles several champions at his RAC camp, is optimistic Manangoi will be ready by the Diamond League season.

“He is progressing well in training, under close monitoring by our physiotherapist. We will not wish to rush him into competition. When we feel he is one hundred percent ready, he will be able to compete” said Ouma.

Meanwhile, World Athletics officials have praised the planning and preparations for the World Athletics Championships Oregon21, after meetings and venue visits in both Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

During the visit, delegates toured the under-construction Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, visited local Eugene hotels, and attended numerous working meetings covering accommodation, broadcast requirements, press operations, event presentation and operations, security and ticketing.

The visiting delegation, comprised of both technical and broadcast experts, had a full agenda, beginning with two days in Portland as they considered course options for the championship marathons and race walks that they will now take to the next World Athletics Council meeting in Nanjing, China, for approval in March.

They also met with Travel Oregon, a key stakeholder and driving force behind state-wide involvement in the event, and its wider promotion.

The World Athletics Championships Oregon21 will take place in both Eugene and Portland from 6-15 August 2021, with specific dates for the Portland events still to be determined. It is the first time the outdoor World Championships will be held on USA soil. The World Athletics Indoor Championships took place in Portland in 2016. [Additional reporting by World Athletics]

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