Coronavirus: Hard times for athletes as AK orders shutdown of training camps

Gilbert Kiprotich, Chief Athletics Writer

Athletics Kenya has ordered all athletics training camps in the country to shut down in the wake of the biting coronavirus pandemic.

“All Athletics training Camps and clubs should remain closed until further notice. Athletes are advised to continue training individually and coaches encouraged to continue monitoring individual athletes,” AK said in a statement.

AK’s directive comes in the wake of a government directive banning all public and social gatherings with the number of coronavirus patients now pegged at 7, after three more cases were confirmed on Wednesday by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.

With Kenya having a high number of athletes so does the number of training camps in the country especially in the North Rift region which comprises of Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties.

Lemotit Athletics Camp in Kericho County is one of the camps that has already halted its operations.

“We have released most of our athletes especially the young athletes so that we can reduce the contacts here at the camp. We hope the situation will improve so that we can resume our training,” head coach Paul Kemei told Citizen Digital.

Elgeyo Marakwet county had on Monday issued a directive to close down all the athletics training camps and gyms with the exception of individualized training.

In Uasin Gishu County, leading training camps have already brought their businesses to a halt in a bid to safeguard the health of its athletes.

Global Sports Communications which hosts world beating athletes including world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has already shut down indefinitely with one of the coaches intimating to Citizen Digital that the athletes have been urged to train on their own until the situation is contained.

Athletics, like other global sporting activities has been hit hard by the spread of the virus with many events having been cancelled or postponed.

Africa Cross Country Championships, World Indoor Championships and World Half Marathon are some of the events that have since been postponed.

Others are major marathons; Boston and London – initially set for next month – but which  have been moved to September and October respectively.

The situation is not unique to Kenya alone as  athletes across the globe are finding it difficult even as they look forward to the Olympic Games due in four months and are yet to be postponed.

In Italy, the Europe’s worst affected country, national 400m champion Davide Re revealed the harsh experience he is going through as the country is experiencing total lockdown.

“I’m worried about the national emergency and the lack of races but my mood remains good. I’m sorry to celebrate my birthday in quarantine, without the classic pastarelle at the camp. Luckily, being a national athlete, I have the opportunity to go to the field so my routine hasn’t changed too much. We can’t use the gym, of course, but we can use the weights on the track outside,” Re told World Athletics.

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