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Why Olympic champ Faith is hopeful on sports return

ATHLETICS By Xinhua | May 7th 2020
Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon celebrates with her gold medal) during the podium ceremony for the women's 1500m of the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO

Chepngetich only came back from maternity leave last year in time for the World Championships.

Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepngetich said she will be grateful whenever the health condition allows the athletics competitions to resume.

Faith, who returned from maternity leave in 2019, wanted to blossom in the 2020 season by dominating the Diamond League and staging a strong performance to defend her Olympic crown in Tokyo. 

However, she has been unable to compete since the season started as the sports calendar continued to be wrecked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I was doing very well in training in Eldoret, but that has been destroyed by the pandemic which has halted sports globally. Though even that will not wear me out," she said on Tuesday from Eldoret. 

"I always look forward to fighting my way to the top and even this pandemic will not slow me down. What is important at the moment is to stay safe and healthy."

Both the Diamond League and World Athletics Continental Tour competitions have been pushed back while training camps in Kenya have been shut down.

This has forced Faith to retreat back to be with her family. It offers her more bonding time with her daughter.

"My body has responded well, though the training is not too demanding. I have no injury worries," she added.

A silver medal reward is what she got after maternity leave and returning to competition a year too early at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar last year. Now she feels strong to challenge for gold and reclaim her empire.

In her absence, Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan rose to the top winning gold in Doha and there is the resurgent Briton Laura Muir and Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba to deal with. 

"With top form, I was ready for the fight with my opponents in the Diamond League and the Olympics. I miss serious athletics competitions, the stadium atmosphere, the adrenaline and challenge. But we will overcome. I don't know if we will be able to compete in 2020. Anytime we are called to action, I will be ready," she said.

That uncertainty, the long lull, is what leaves Faith with more doubts. "For athletes, we plan and that has been taken from us. You train, but with no idea when to run is frustrating. 

"Training consecutively for over three months, or six months will be hard. For now, the best plan is to plan to be fit and know that sports may not be allowed in 2020," Faith added.  But for certain, Faith believes she will be ready for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) said the tight schedule of competition in 2021 will require athletes to be at their best fitness to excel since the coronavirus has forced the postponement or cancellation of sports action.

CAA president Hamad Malboum Kalkaba is urging athletes to observe health guidelines by their governments.

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