Kenya coach hopes athletes will overcome COVID-19 and conquer Olympics

Source: Xinhua| 2020-03-26 17:29:48|Editor: huaxia

NAIROBI, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Renowned coach Bernard Ouma said Thursday the restrictions put in place are making it hard for elite athletes to train as governments bolster their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Ouma who runs the Rongai Athletics Club, which has over 20 athletes including World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Commonwealth Games champion Elijah Manangoi, said they will do everything to safeguard to health of their runners.

However, he said the athletes need to follow specific program issued so as to maintain their fitness, which will make their return to competition easier.

Ouma said numerous African nations have closed shop on all training camps in a bid to try stopping the spread of the disease.

"Everywhere in the world, the restrictions make training very difficult for elite athletes. The pandemic is affecting all across the world and we stand with the victims of coronavirus and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones," Ouma said.

World Athletics has already put the athletes on notice they still hope a "season of one-day meetings" could be staged in 2020. This includes the World Athletics Continental Tour, which starts in Nairobi on May 2.

The world body said it could start and end later than usual the season, especially the one-day-competitions and hoped athletes could have access to competition in every region.

This is what coach Ouma is relying on to provide his runners with special programs to do while they observe forced isolation.

"I appreciate the measures taken by the Kenyan federal and county governments to control an imminent spike of the coronavirus by giving directives to control social gathering and social distancing, and recommendation to regularly sanitize, and washing of hands," the coach added.

"Closing athletics camps and clubs indefinitely was one of the recent measures. It is a dream of every athlete to have the opportunity to compete at the highest level like the Olympics. This requires adequate and uninterrupted preparation. Rongai Athletics Club, just like many other athletics clubs, is closed and athletes are left to train in isolation."

Ouma said he prefers high level of training, which encompasses cohesiveness and team work, which is practically not possible in these circumstances.

"The coronavirus is locally stigmatized, having the athletes in constant fear and panic mode, completely hampering training. Who wants to turn up at the Olympics half prepared?"