ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s long-distance runners Selemon Barega and Muktar Edris have admitted the coronavirus pandemic has “hurt us a lot” and “cost us dearly.”
The premier showpiece event for track-and-field competitors – the Olympics and, namely, the 2020 Tokyo Games – have been pushed back to this year and are due to commence on 23rd July.
“Sadly, an athlete is only prepared when there is competition and our ability is measured by competition. We have hardly been able to compete because of COVID-19. But we are working to make things better in the future. The coronavirus pandemic has hurt us a lot”, said 5000 metres long-distance runner Barega.
The impact of COVID-19 saw a heavily-disrupted, and heavily-reduced, calendar for track-and-field competitors in 2020.
But with vaccinations expected to roll out across the world in the coming months, Ethiopia’s runners are optimistic that they will be in shape, not just for Olympics but also other competitions.
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation held a qualifying competition for the delayed Olympic Games, with their athletics team having prepared for more than two-and-a-half months and following strict COVID-19 protocols from within their hotel base camp.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 will be in our minds three or four days before the next competition. But, regardless of COVID-19, we are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics to take place this year”, said long-distance run coach Hussen Shebo.
Many of their athletes have been focused on their physical performance with different competitions in mind.
Ethiopia is a long-distance athletics powerhouse.