Kenya: How U.S.-Based Kenyan Runners Are Adjusting to Virus Shutdown

United States-based Kenyan coach Paul Ereng has said that it will be difficult for athletes to resume full training this season owing to the ravaging novel coronavirus.

Ereng, the 1988 Olympic Games 800m gold medallist, spoke as some of US-based Kenyan athletes Betsy Saina, Emmanuel Korir, Moffat Ngari and Calvin Nkanata highlighted their challenges amidst the lockdown enforced by governments in an effort to contain the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

"The season here might not resume this year. Safety and the wellbeing of our athletes is currently paramount," said Ereng, who is based in El Paso, Texas.

"Things are alright but everything is on stand still for now due to coronavirus."

Ereng said the 800m athletes Korir and Michael Saruni had been training hard together in El Paso but their sessions have been halted by the shut-down.

"We are following directives and guidelines of the local authorities on how to stay safe," said Ereng, the 1989 Budapest and 1991 Seville World 800m champion.

Ereng said that they are keeping a distance of six feet from each other besides staying away from public gatherings or events.

"One can only go out to seek essential services. Everyone is working remotely," explained Ereng.

"Everything is off limits and we are all trying to see what to do after this pandemic has been contained."


Korir said it has been difficult for him to train with the shut-down. "There is little someone can do apart from the a few personalised runs within to keep fit, One can't go far," said Korir, the Africa 800m silver medallist.

Saina, the 2018 Paris Marathon champion, who is based in Oregon, said training has been difficult. "I am just training once daily alone since group sessions have been banned," said Saina.

She said she had had just started training having recovered from a minor injury sustained in January.

"I was planning for some fall marathon but with a couple of road races before," said Saina. "But all we care for now is for, everyone to be safe out there. Races will be back, hopefully soon."

Saina said she was praying and hoping that the coronavirus doesn't hit Kenya the way it has ravaged the USA.

Kenya had by yesterday registered 81 cases, one death and one recovery.

The USA had 189,445 cases with 4,075 deaths and 7,082 recoveries by Tuesday.

Ngari, Team Kenya captain for the 2016 World Under-20 Championships, and is studying architecture at Hampton University, Virginia, said it's now going into three weeks since the shutdown.

"School and every sporting events have been cancelled. Right now it's a state of confusion, all we are doing is staying in the house and attend online classes,: said Ngari, the 200m and 400m sprinter.

Ngari noted that schools had closed down the rest of their semester as they released international students to go back to their countries.

"Those who failed to travel were asked to find a place they could stay.

"Hotel business are slow since events have been cancelled, and people are not traveling a lot. Restaurants that do not do home delivery are not in business since people are now ordering food and not sitting in restaurants to eat," said Ngari.

He said he was putting up with his coach Maurice Pierce since he was the only international student on the team after the rest of his Kenyan mates transferred to other schools.

Ngari completed his degree in December but has extended his stay to 2022 to enable him complete his Masters.

Nkanata, the national 200m record holder, resides in Summerville and represented Kenya at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He wants that experience again.

Nkanata seems to have gotten that chance with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games from this year to July 23 to August 23 next year.

"Surreal feeling. Before I became an Olympian, I didn't understand the magnitude of it, but after the Olympics, after it settles down, it just propels you in life. It shows the world and people outside of the Olympics that this person is super dedicated, super humble and works hard." Nkanata told website from his home in Pittsburgh.

He's been training hard with his sights on Tokyo 2020.

"In my situation, it potentially helps me, gives me an extra year to one up on the competition, stick with training. It'll definitely help me," he added.

With the delay in the games, he'll have a chance to actually qualify for the Games m in Kenya.

"It would have been close to impossible, honestly. Kenya, from my understanding, locked down the whole country. From the outside, coming inside would have been nearly impossible. I was just weighing my options, honestly. I'm the only Kenyan athlete that has dual citizenship."

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