Justin Lagat sent us this piece on how the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for Peres Jepchirchir and Vincent Kipchumba.
When the Kenyan selectors were selecting Kenya’s Olympic squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Vincent Kipchumba had never ever run in a world major marathon race before and Peres Jepchirchir had a personal best time of 2:23.50 for the marathon. There was no way the two could catch the eyes of the selectors at that time.
2020 came and many races were either cancelled or postponed, and then the Olympic Games were also moved to 2021.
Jepchirchir used the difficult year to break the women’s only world half marathon record by running 65:16 in Gydnia and to win the world half marathon title as well. She ran the Valencia Marathon in December and registered 2:17.16 which was a new personal best time for her and one of the fastest times in history for the women’s marathon.
The fact that Vincent Kipchumba had been invited to the London Marathon in 2020 shows that he was slowly becoming one upcoming runner to watch in the marathon. He had won the Amsterdam and the Vienna city marathons the previous year, but given the level of competition in Kenya, he still had to prove himself worthy to represent Kenya at the Olympics.
Kipchumba began the year very well and ran an impressive half marathon in Kenya to easily win it in readiness for the April’s London Marathon. But, unfortunately, the London marathon was postponed to October as the Covid19 situation in the country forced training camps to be closed. So, he went and trained alone in his village.
He finally got the opportunity to run the London marathon in October and narrowly lost it to Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata in a sprint finish.
London marathon is one marathon that is closely followed by a lot of Kenyan fans and Kipchumba became a celebrity and a well-known figure after that race.
This past week, Athletics Kenya revised their marathon team to the Olympic Games and Jepchirchir and Kipchumba got named. Had the Olympic Games not been postponed by a year, the two would not have impressed the selectors. And, had there been no pandemic, the Olympic Games would not have been postponed!