Athletics: Kenya's Flomena Cheyech eyes Singapore Marathon following cancelled Suzhou race

NAIROBI (XINHUA) – Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech, a former Commonwealth Games champion, was looking forward to announcing her return from maternity leave at the Suzhou Half Marathon in China on March 15.

However, she cut short her preparations as the world battled coronavirus. A month down the line, there is no sign of sports competition returning, but that has not meant she will stop training.

“I have focused on running the marathon again in 2020, and I will continue training. It is a challenge at the moment because of restrictions, but once this health condition has been lifted, I will head back to China for another race, whenever that is,” Cheyech said on Friday (April 24) from Eldoret.

Her focus is now getting fit and ready for the Singapore Marathon, which is traditionally held in December, though the 2020 edition has yet to be launched by local organisers. The extended time frame, she believes, will offer her enough time to recover and shake off the rust from two years of having no competition.

“I do hope everything will be back to normal by the time we run at the Singapore Marathon in December,” she said.

Cheyech previously ran in Singapore, finishing second in 2012, and was fourth at the London world marathon championships in 2017. She also won the Saitama Marathon back in 2017.

The 38-year-old has not raced since 2018, but she feels the long delay occasioned by Covid-19, is a blessing to her.

“It was right to have all sporting events pushed back for a good future to curb the spread of the virus. Everyone will return stronger and more competitive, which means that you must be in your best form to challenge for a title,” said Cheyech.

The former world half-marathon athlete is not crying over the loss of the chance to gauge herself at the Suzhou Half Marathon. Instead, she rejoices at the prospect of challenging for a spot in the Kenyan team for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games or the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

With training camps closed, Cheyech spends most of her time at home after she has done her morning run.

“Athletics is our job, but with most activities cancelled or postponed, we have no alternative but to do some parenting and help our children with their studies,” she said.

Cheyech, who defeated compatriot Caroline Kilel to win her first gold for Kenya at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, is hopeful Kenya will retain the marathon titles in Tokyo and at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.

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