Kenyan team set to face Norwegian squad in virtual challenge


World men’s 1500m Champion Timothy Cheruiyot will lead a team of five Kenyan runners in a virtual 2000 metres exhibition race as part of the Impossible Games, a behind-closed-doors Oslo Diamond League event on Thursday.

The Kenyans who will be running in Nairobi, will compete against a squad led by the trio of renowned Norwegian Ingebrigtsen brothers-Jakob, Filip and Henrik- in Oslo. CGTN’s Mohamed Abubakar tells us more.

Rongai Athletics Club, home of Kenyan world men’s 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, has stepped up training for the delayed start of the international outdoor athletics season in August.

But ahead of the resumption of post COVID-19 competition, they have accepted a virtual challenge from the Norwegian trio of Ingebrigtsen brothers.

Bernard Ouma, Coach, Rongai Athletics Club: “Meetings are nowadays on virtual; nobody goes to the boardroom, but what happened to the sports? So we are trying a different normal, by having a virtual competition, competing at different stadiums.”

Dubbed the ‘Impossible Games’, the Maurie Plant Memorial Race on the 11th of June will see Team Cheruiyot run behind closed-doors at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi to take on the Ingebrigtsen brothers, who will be running in Oslo Norway, in a virtual 2000m race.

Timothy Cheruiyot, Men’s 1500m World Champion: “We are going to be running without fans in the stadium, that’s one challenge. We are also going to be running at very high altitude here in Nairobi compared to them in Oslo. But we always believe in our training and we are very confident we’ll overcome all these challenges.”

Coach Bernard Ouma relishes the middle distance rivalry between his charges and the Ingebrigtsen brothers- Jakob, Filip and Henrik- and says their threat should not be underrated.

“History doesn’t forget, we’ve done a lot of competitions with the Norway brothers, right from under-18, he was beaten by George Manangoi, under-20 he was beaten again by George, the Diamond League, Timothy has been winning since 2016, the World Championship, Oh we won again, these are the same people we’re competing with, that does not mean that they can’t beat us, but they have to dig very deep,” Mr. Ouma says.

Cheruiyot is excited to be running alongside close friend and training partner, the 2017 world 1500m champion, Elijah Manangoi, who will be returning to the track for the first time since his lengthy injury layoff.

Timothy Cheruiyot, Men’s 1500m World Champion: “I believe in my team, first of all I’m so happy Elijah Manangoi is back, he’s recovered very well from his injury and looks very strong. I also have Edwin Melly, who has been in camp for 3 months now, so he’s in good shape, the whole team is in great shape really, including the pace makers.”

“June 11th will witness a unique race here at the Nyayo National Stadium, as the two teams compete thousands of miles apart. For men world 1500m champion, Timothy Cheruiyot and the his team, this will be another great opportunity to remind the Norwegian Ingerbridgsten brothers and the World that Kenya still owns this event.

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