Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon man, reckoned his first reaction was shock when he heard at home in Kenya that the 2020 Olympic Games had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That shock soon gave way to disappointment — but then defiance.
“We will win this fight against the COVID-19,” the barrier-breaking Kenyan, who’s widely considered the world’s finest runner, said in an interview with Reuters.
And the man who last year became the first to run a marathon in under two hours confirmed he can see himself refreshed and ready to defend his marathon title in a rearranged Tokyo Olympics next year.
For the moment, though, the 35-year-old insists his only concern is to care for his family at their home in Eldoret.
“I am totally concentrating on my safety, I am totally concentrating on the safety of the whole family,” he said.
“The virus has really hit us in a hard way. That’s why you need to focus.”
Kipchoge explained he had been relaxing at home when he heard of the Tokyo postponement.
“I was a little shocked and I had to go back, just to think more. I think and then I said, ‘it’s not a bad idea to actually postpone’.
“You know the Olympic Games is whereby everybody wants to participate … it’s in the dreams of every sportsman in this world..”
Kipchoge thinks a delayed Olympics could actually benefit his title defense.
“It’s a great time for us to go back, train again and we will come back with a lot of energy,” he said.
The pandemic has led to the postponement or cancellation of sporting events around the world, including the London Marathon, which next month was scheduled to be Kipchoge’s first outing since October’s landmark one hour, 59 minutes, 40 seconds run in Vienna.
Even though the run in Austria did not count as a world record because of the special conditions, the feat captured the world’s imagination and brought Kipchoge a whole new level of fame.
London had promised the mouth-watering prospect of a head-to-head with Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the only other sub-2.02 marathoner, but Kipchoge said he was yet to think too far ahead about competing in the rescheduled race on Oct. 4.