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Virus puts Kwemoi’s debut over 21km on hold, for now

Monday June 22 2020
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The 2016 World Under-20 10,000 metres champion Rodgers Kwemoi feeds his dairy cows at his home in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on June 21, 2020. The Japan-based athlete is in the country following cancellation of all international flights. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BERNARD ROTICH

Kenyan athletes have been going abroad to look for greener pastures, and many have landed in Asian countries, mostly in Japan.

A number of them have been contracted by Japanese firms. They work and participate in various events while representing these companies.

But that is not to say that these athletes miss out on representing their home countries in either Commonwealth Games, World Championships, World Half Marathon Championships or the Olympics.

Covid-19 pandemic has led to cancellation of races globally. Others such as the 2020 Olympic Games were postponed to next year.

Still, travel plans by many athletes have been thrown into disarray.

One such athlete is 2016 World Under-20 10,000 metres champion Rodgers Kwemoi.

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Nation Sport caught up with him at his home in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County after he failed to travel back to Japan when the Kenyan airspace was closed in March. 

Kwemoi has been working with Asian Kogyo Corporate team since 2015, and his athletics career has grown steadily. He arrived back home in January to prepare for Lisbon Half Marathon, where he was to make his debut over the distance but that was not to be as the race was cancelled. 

Came back home to train

“I came back home to train here for endurance because I was going to run the 21km race for the first time and I was just working on endurance. I had prepared well and I knew I was going to do well but the virus stalled my dreams,” Kwemoi, who is under Global Sports Communication stable, said.

The virus spread so fast Kwemoi couldn’t catch a flight back to Japan, his second home, because the Kenyan air space was closed in an effort to contain the spread of the global pandemic.

He hopes that things will return to normal again for competitions to resume because he is missing the sport.

The soft-spoken athlete was in the Kenyan team for 2019 World Championships in Doha, narrowly missing out on the medal bracket as he finished fourth.

He blames that performance on inadequate training occasioned by a lot of travelling.
“I would have done better in the championships but my training was disrupted. I travelled to Japan and back and I had few weeks to prepare,” Kwemoi, who is also the Commonwealth Games 10,000m bronze medallist, said.

But back in Japan, life is slowly returning to normal.

Stephen Mayaka, the head coach at Oberlin University Tokyo, says although the deadly virus has disrupted sports globally, but he is happy that competitions will resume next month in Tokyo.

“Things are getting back to normal here and we are even getting back to competitions next month where athletes will be competing in Hokuren challenge meet in Hokkaido on 4th,8th,15th and 18th July,” Mayaka told Nation Sport on phone from Japan.

He also said that athletes in Japan are in good shape and are looking forward to competing.
Mayaka also said that he was looking forward to the Olympics Games but it was unfortunate because it had to be shifted to next year.

“As a coach I was also looking forward to the Olympics Games because the Japanese were ready to host the historic event but it was postponed to next year and we just have to wait,” he added.

The 2016 World Under-20 10,000 metres champion Rodgers Kwemoi feeds his dairy cows at his home in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on Sunday. The Japan-based athlete is in the country following cancellation of all international flights.

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