Sat, 04 Jul 2020

NAIROBI, June 2 (Xinhua) -- World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot said on Tuesday that running in a virtual race on June 11 will be a great relief and big sign that sport competitions will soon return.

Cheruiyot, who will team up with his running partners from Rongai Athletics Club in Nairobi to challenge Norwegian stars, the Ingebrigtsen brothers -- will run in a 2000m virtual race on June 11.

The Norwegian team of the Ingebrigtsen brothers -- Henrik, Filip and Jakob -- will run in Oslo, while Cheruiyot teaming up with Commonwealth Games champ Elijah Manangoi will form part of "Team Cheruiyot" and will run in Nairobi. Each team will have a maximum of five athletes with three finishing the race.

"What a relief to return to action. Certainly, I miss running on the track competitively so it's good to be focused on something for once, something to look forward to as an athlete," Cheruiyot said in Nairobi.

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei has weighed in and said the virtual race, where the two will compare their times in Nairobi and Oslo will be a milestone as they prepare to return to full-time competition in August.

"Athletics Kenya fully supports the idea. With travel restrictions and each country having health measures to contain COVID-19, this is a great idea of how elite runners can come together and compete. We support it. However, other athletes must continue training because the season is about to start in August," Tuwei added.

Oslo Diamond League meet director Steinar Hoen said the new idea will help defeat the fact athletes can't travel internationally to compete due to COVID-19.

"Participation from around the world is impossible like we are used to. But with some creativity we have managed to create a unique match between Team Ingebrigtsen and Team Cheruiyot through international cooperation," said Hoen.

The individual times scored by the two sets of athletes will count as well.

"The race dubbed, Impossible Games 2000m, is a serious but fun event. I assure you that my teammates and I will do our very best," Cheruiyot added. "I miss being on the track."

Manangoi, who has shaken off his injury, which forced him to sit out of the World Championships last year, is also upbeat on the new idea of competition.

"It will help cool our nerves and know competition is soon returning. My plan is to be fit and focused on the 2021 Olympics, which I hope to do well," said Manangoi.

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