Olympics champion uses layoff instigated to prepare for defence in Tokyo

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 00:00 | By
Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon after winning gold at the 2017 World Championships in London. Photo/FILE

Nairobi, Tuesday

Rio Olympics women’s 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon may have returned early to competition before a hip injury curtailed her progress, but she hopes to use the long recess to rediscover her form ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games in 2021.

The 26-year-old plans to stage a successful defence of her title in Tokyo, having returned from maternity leave, a season too early.

“To come back in 2019 very strongly after maternity leave motivated me for the Olympic Games,” Kipyegon said on Monday from Eldoret. 

However, she has been forced to bite her time as she trains at home with her family after the Kenyan government enforced a partial lockdown, banning all training camps and having a dusk to dawn curfew.

This has limited her training as she can only make solo long runs to gauge her endurance and make short speed work to stay fit.

“I had started my training early. I knew that I would be back to my best shape ahead of the Diamond League campaign,” she said. 

“But it was never to be. The season has been wrecked by Covid-19 and we have to do with what we have.

The important aspect is to remain safe and healthy by following the directives of the government and health officials,” she added.

When Kipyegon opted to have her first baby back in 2017, she envisaged returning to action in 2020.

But to her own surprise, she was feeling ready in 2019 and went ahead of schedule to compete at the World Championships in Doha last year.

However, she lost the gold title to Dutch Sifan Hassan, a fact she puts down to the hip injury, which she has now gotten over.

“Last year, my preparation for the world championships was hurried. It was short and the impact it left me with was the hip injury,” she added.

“I was happy to win silver, looking at the circumstances, but I feel on a good day, Hassan was not to beat me.

Remember, I was also coming back from maternity leave,” said Kipyegon. 

But with the Olympics postponed and no clear indication when competition will resume, Kipyegon is keeping herself busy doing solo training. 

She has also shifted camp from Nakuru to Kaptagat near Eldoret to join Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge’s Global Communication Management team. 

“Of course the virus has stopped the world and we just have to understand and wait. After this things, will be back and we will be able to return to action and train together,” she said. 

Kipyegon has to prepare without the benefit of one-day competitions to gauge herself after World Athletics cancelled Diamond League, which was to start in Doha on April 17 and the Continental Tour (May 2) has also been pushed back. -Xinhua

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