Nairobi: Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge has called on athletes worldwide to be careful and remain healthy to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.
The sports industry had lost billions of dollars since the coronavirus pandemic struck with hundreds of races cancelled or postponed. Kipchoge has himself seen his training go down the drain as he was scheduled to compete in London marathon on April 26 and the Tokyo Olympics, which have both been postponed.
Now, Kipchoge has retreated to his home in Eldoret, after his training camp in Kaptagat was closed down by the Kenyan government.
"We closed camp and I have been training individually, which required that I reduce my workload, and at the same time keep fit and focused on the next period of time after the virus has been contained," Kipchoge told reporters.
With no competition and prospects of making an income, Kipchoge has not given up but looks at it as another chance to redeem himself. He said that what matters to him now is his own safety and that of his family.
"Of course this is a global problem. We must fight it. But what is crucial now is the safety of my family. That is why we are keeping safe as we see how things unfold regarding the virus. It has affected everyone around the world and the only solution is to follow guidelines set by the government," added Kipchoge.
World 5,000m champion Helen Obiri said it was important for the athletes to lead in the race against spread of coronavirus.
"We all need to run away from the risk of conducting the coronavirus. I advice Kenyans to feel inspired and exercise at home. Stay at home and reduce movement. The outbreak will be managed," said Obiri.
World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot said the break created by the coronavirus will see athletes come back strong to register faster times compared to last season.
"I feel that many athletes may have taken a break from training but they are training individually, however the virus will not slow down the athletes because they will come back stronger," said Cheruiyot.
Concerning countries worst hit by coronavirus, Kipchoge asked those affected to observe self-discipline and to follow safety measures provided by their governments.
"I would like to ask those who are in the countries hit by the pandemic to follow safety measures from their various governments and at the same time they should observe self-discipline to contain the deadly virus," he said.
Kenya's Olympic body NOC-K Secretary-General Francis Mutuku said they have launched a national campaign to sensitize the public against the coronavirus. The health campaign is spearheaded by local sports stars.
"They are role models and good agents of change and can lead the execution of government directives as they stand for Kenya's unity," said Mutuku.