It’s no doubt that the last week of March since 2011 – save for 2012 and 2013–to date, stands out in athletics circles as the “Geoffrey Kamworor week.”
In 2011, he won world cross country junior title in Punta Umbria, Spain and then chalked up wins at world cross country (2013 and 2015) and world half marathon titles (2014, 2016 and 2018).
All the activities have been held on the last week of March.
Kamworor won bronze medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, last year.
But the athletics world will miss his brilliant shows this week as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc every passing day.
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“It is unfortunate that I will be at home this weekend just relaxing. I have always enjoyed the third weekend of March winning either world cross country championships or world half marathon championships.
“But I urge my fans to dedicate the week to taking preventive measures on the spread of coronavirus and save humanity. I promise them that come next year’s world cross country championships, I will be back,” said Kamworor.
Every third week of March, he said, is a memorable moment in his athletics career.
Drawing from British Charles Caleb Colton’s counsel that ‘the purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is the one elicited from the darkest storm,’ Kamworor believes the world will emerge stronger from coronavirus pandemic.
Kamworor, 27, is living his dream year and following in the footsteps of fellow athletic greats from his village.
He did not have to look outside his village for inspiration especially coming from a region with a rich long athletics pedigree in 5,000m and 10,000m.
Within a radius of 10 kilometres from his home in Keiyo South lives the world’s long-distance greats among them double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, former Military Games 5,000m champion Sammy Kipketer and Kenyan-turned-Qatari Albert Chepkurui.
As a young boy, Kamworor could sneak away from home during weekends to nearby athletics-rich Kapkenda Girls High School, where he peeped through the live fence to watch athletics world-beaters training.
Former Olympic 1,500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat, former world 3,000m champion Veronica Nyaruai and former world cross-country silver medalist Prisca Jepleting are among an armada of globe-trotting stars who studied at the school.
“I loved the sport from childhood. I am happy that I can actualise my dreams here. I now want to break the world in 21km this season,” said Kamworor, who attended Lelboinet Secondary School in Keiyo South.
He paid tribute to Joel Ruto, his games teacher, who spotted his athletics talent.
“His pieces of advice inspired me a lot. And even after this, I still faced another challenge since I feared to train in public,” he said.
By then, he was afraid that locals would mock him while in training and this saw him take too long to engage in full-time training. He could win the inter-class competitions in school and take a low profile thereafter.
Meanwhile, the Japanese doctor, who created a media firestorm with videos criticising the quarantine of a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship said he now believes the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should not go on.
Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, said on his blog yesterday that it’s not clear that the outbreak in Japan will have subsided by the planned start of the Games in July.
Also, the flood of foreign visitors could exacerbate the spread of the disease, known as COVID-19.
Japanese government officials have said the Olympics will go ahead as scheduled and will not be held behind closed doors.
“The Olympics are not just a mass gathering, but a mass gathering from all over the world, while COVID is a global pandemic,” Iwata wrote.
Iwata boarded the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in February and his YouTube videos decrying the conditions there garnered more than a million views.Iwata said that bureaucrats were running the quarantine.