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SPORTS

Track stars delighted with rescheduled 2020 season

ATHLETICS By Dennis Okeyo | May 14th 2020
Athletics - Diamond League - Doha - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - May 3, 2019, Kenya's Hellen Obiri celebrates winning the women's 3000m. [REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari]

Kenyan athletics stars have welcomed World Athletics (WA) decision to reschedule the calendar after the Covid-19 disrupted the season. 

Kenya boost of more than 1,000 elite runners from 400m to the marathon, who depend on running for their livelihood.

It’s estimated that athletes were going to lose more than Sh5 billion shillings if the entire running season was to be scrapped.

The financial gains are from appearance fees, prize money and other endorsements outside their annual contracts. 

On Tuesday WA announced shortened the provisional track and field calendar that’s scheduled for August, September and October. 

Former world champion Elijah Manangoi who missed much of the 2019 season due to injury and has since made full recovery and was looking forward to the season before coronavirus brought the world to a standstill is delighted by the latest development. 

“I think that’s a great move, we were anxious about the season because of this global pandemic, I know there are still restrictions on gathering and training but individually, I will be adjusting my training programme to stay fit and hope things go as planed,” Manangoi said.

World champion Hellen Obiri also shared similar sentiments: “We depend on running, but we are optimistic that normal operations will return soon.” 

Coach Bernard Ouma is, however, cautious about the season regarding international travel restrictions put in place by different countries. 

“It’s a glare of hope, because the uncertainty has been hugely felt by runners. But I foresee a situation where international travel might affect the ability of some athletes to attend some meetings,” Ouma said.

Meanwhile, Nairobi Athlete Meet Race Director Barnaba Korir has expressed confidence that city will be ready to host the biggest athletic event in the country in September 26. 

The Nairobi meeting, was originally planned to open the tour in May before the virus disruption. 

“We have hit the ground running despite Covid-19 pandemic, we have been holding virtual meetings weekly to plan the Nairobi Meet. 

“We have actually even identified potential sponsors for the event, and now that we have the new date in place, things will move even faster as we wait for full normalization," Korir said. 

Eight of the ten Continental Tour Gold meetings originally scheduled for 2020 have been confirmed for this year, between August and October.

WA has set total prize money purse of US$ 200,000 (Sh20m million) for each Gold meeting.

At the same time, WA president Sebastian Coe praised the efforts of the meeting organisers to work with the world body to put together a substantial competition season for the sport’s top athletes.

“As we have worked through the challenges posed by the pandemic and the disruption it has caused to our sport, as well as the wider community, our first priority was the health of our athletes.”

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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