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Coping with the coronavirus: Eunice Sum on athlete life in Kenya

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Published in Athletics
Friday, 27 March 2020 06:15

The 2013 world 800m champion is still training but says the priority now is for the world to be healthy and virus free

Athletics stars from around the world are sharing insight into how they are coping during the coronavirus outbreak, which continues to cause great uncertainty and disruption to training and competition. Here, 2013 world 800m champion Eunice Sum talks about her own situation.

“The priority now is for the world to be healthy again and virus free”

“My first race was to be the Doha Diamond League,” says Sum, who won 800m gold at the 2013 world championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games. “I was preparing for that but now of course it has been postponed.

“If the Diamond Leagues were postponed to autumn or even December that would be okay for me but the priority now is for the world to be healthy again and virus free.”

Training

“We are still training but trying as much as possible to follow what the government is saying,” explains Sum, who lives in Eldoret, a town in the Rift Valley region of Kenya.

“I am able to train but I cannot do any speed work on the track because all the stadiums are closed. So what I do is run on the road and try to do some pace variations on the road. I don’t have my training mates with me, I’m just training alone.

“Staying motivated is a little bit difficult but I tell myself I must continue training because I don’t know what is going to come out of all this. I just leave it to God because he is in control of everything.”

The 31-year-old adds: “It is hard for all athletes.

“Some of my friends went to Europe, I think to Paris, for a half-marathon but couldn’t run. That is hard.

“My friend Vivian (Cheruiyot), her two big races this year were to be the London Marathon and the Olympics – both off.”

Life in Kenya

“I live in Eldoret and things are not really good here,” says Sum. “Most of the shops are closed except supermarkets and chemists. All other businesses are locked down.

“I shopped for food last week so I have not needed to shop this week so I just stay in the house. The only time I have been out of the house in the last week is to go training. And when you’re out you must not speak to anyone!”

The Olympics

“I agree with the decision which was made (to delay the Games),” Sum says. “Athletes are not able to train well enough.

“I think postponing the Olympics for one year is better than cancelling because if we have to wait four years, you don’t know whether you will still be in good form. Although we have been training hard for 2020, I think waiting one year will not make much difference.

“It is not ideal to have the Olympics and the world championships next year but it depends how they’re going to decide on the schedule. It is so difficult to postpone events because they have been arranged for years but now everything is coming out in a different way.

“I wonder if they could do the Commonwealth Games earlier (in 2022) and the world championships in its usual place at the end of the 2022 season.”

Click here for more athlete insight on ‘coping with the coronavirus’.

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