How COVID-19 affected marathon great Eliud Kipchoge

The World record holder, who has won 11 of the 12 official marathons he has taken part in, said he is tackling the tough days by staying positive.

The coronavirus pandemic affected marathon great Kipchoge's training schedule.   -  Getty Images

Ever since he won the marathon Olympic gold at the Rio Games in 2016, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya has been smashing records with authority. He planned to crack a few more this year before the pandemic struck and halted his progress.

“The postponement of the Tokyo Games [to 2021] has turned everything, from preparation to planning, upside down for me,” he told Sportstar  from Kenya on Friday.

The World record holder, who has won 11 of the 12 official marathons he has taken part in, said he is tackling the tough days by staying positive and setting safety as his priority.

Isolation training

“I have never been in a hard situation like this. This one is completely different and has hampered my training in a big way,” he said. “It has not only affected my training but my fitness too. Training in isolation is not easy and, without your teammates around, it is hard to gauge your fitness as well. Consistency and setting your goal is another recipe.”

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But Kipchoge was quick to point out that the pandemic has taught him life’s big lesson: “To treat the uncertainties and accept the change as it happens.”

Having run 3.2kms to school on a daily basis, the Kenyan has moulded himself into a tough nut to crack. “Yes, I was born tough and have also gone through some tough situations in life but the pandemic is tougher still,” he said.

Patiently waiting

How about defending the marathon title at the Tokyo Games? “It’s not easy to clinch the gold as it needs total dedication and patience and, above all, consistency,” said the 35-year-old, who won at Rio with the biggest margin of victory (70 seconds) in the Olympics since 1972. The Kenyan had bagged a silver at Beijing (2008) and bronze at Athens (2004), both over 5000m.

Despite his advancing years, Kipchoge, who ran the world’s first ever sub-two-hour marathon by clocking 1:59:40 at a special event in Vienna last year, is determined to run many a mile. Besides the Olympics, he is eyeing a fifth London Marathon title.

He may have to wait for things to settle down before getting back on the road.

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