Olympic Athletics Kenya’s Cheruiyot sharpens form while the Olympics wave, says coach

TOKYO (Reuters) – Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot, who joined the Olympic team late after initially failing to qualify, is stepping up his preparation to win gold in his first 2020 Tokyo games, his coach said.

FILE PHOTO: Athletics – Diamond League – Monaco – Stade Louis II, Monaco – July 9, 2021 Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot wins the men’s 1500m REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

The reigning 1,500m world champion struggled in the Kenyan trials last month, which can sometimes be more competitive than the Olympics themselves.

He finished fourth, missed the cut to compete in Tokyo, and remembered failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics five years earlier.

Cheruiyot, 25, later said he was struggling with an injury and a close relative died on the day of the Kenyan trials, factors that contributed to his underperformance.

His trainer Bernard Ouma said that sometimes people forget that athletes are people too.

“On a podium, people see athletes, others see machines that are running and have to be in first position. In the back of my mind as a trainer, I also see a person with social challenges, both family and personal, ”he said.

Cheruiyot’s Olympic dream was resurrected after Kamar Etyang, who finished second in the exams, was kicked off the team for failing to meet World Athletics’ anti-doping test requirements.

Cheruiyot, a three-time Diamond League champion, was the next man.

“He’s just been called up to the team, that excitement is there,” Ouma told Reuters.

After the disappointment at the Kenyan exams, Cheruiyot made an impressive recovery and won the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm. This was followed by a terrific victory in Monaco with a world best time of 3 minutes and 28.28 seconds.

“He’s happy with the performances, what we’re doing now is to hone it,” said Ouma. “Championships are tough because there are prelims, semifinals and finals.

“So far we’re in good shape, just holding on … All we do now is work backwards to keep the same shape.”

Cheruiyot is expected to arrive in Tokyo on July 30th as Team Kenya try to make the preparations while keeping the searing heat of Japan in mind.

On Wednesday, the country’s weather bureau issued warnings of heat stroke for the fifth consecutive year, highlighting the challenge teams will face at the tournament.

“We take into account the effects of weather conditions, some athletes will travel closer to their races,” Ouma said in a telephone interview from the Japanese city of Kurume, where Team Kenya has set up camp.

But the goal is clear to Cheruiyot, said Ouma.

“There are three medals, all of them fight for the best place. So Timothy is also looking for the best place that is gold, ”he said.

Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing of Lincoln Fest.

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