Athletics-Kenya's Cheruiyot ready to hunt for glory on the track again


By Edwin Waita and Omar Mohammed

NAIROBI, July 27 (Reuters) - Kenya's Timothy Cheruiyot, the 1,500 metres world champion, is hoping to return to competitive running next month after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Cheruiyot, a three-time Diamond League winner, has targeted the Aug. 14 Monaco race of the same series as his return date. He plans to run in at least three more races before the end of the year.

"My focus is to be there, to compete to run at least my personal best," he told Reuters.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world, led to the shutting down or postponement of sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympic Games, to curb its spread.

It also disrupted Cheruiyot's 2020 plans, which included preparing for the Olympics in Tokyo.

He and his team mates were forced to interrupt their camp at Rongai Athletics Club, located on the outskirts of Nairobi, for three months. They have just resumed training, said Bernard Ouma, Cheruiyot's coach.

"We are... trying to see if any of the provisionally provided Diamond League races will take place," Ouma said.

There are five such race events which are uncertain to take place due to the coronavirus crisis, the coach said, adding that athletes were trying to adapt.

"The year 2020 is more of survival," he added.

Yet there is a silver lining in all the gloom: injured athletes have time to be nursed back to health without the pressure of worrying that they are missing out.

Cheruiyot, who had been nursing an unspecified injury in February, said the pause has allowed him to recuperate and get fit. He is yearning to get back into action.

"I miss racing, always connecting with friends abroad, running together, having fun outside," he said.

(Writing by Omar Mohammed Editing by Duncan Miriri and Toby Davis)

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