This is Justin Lagat’s first column on the Tokyo Olympics, on the first day of the Olympics. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is one year late, and still under the pallor of the pandemic. Justin will be remotely covering the Tokyo Olympics for @runblogrun from his hometown of Iten, Kenya.
Due to the competition delays and cancelations caused by the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic Games marks the beginning of a long medal harvest for athletes beginning from 2021 up to 2025. We have the world championships in Oregon next year, followed by the world championships in Budapest in 2023, the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, and the world championships again in 2025.
For the first time, the Olympic Games will happen in Tokyo without the usual full stadiums and it remains to be seen how exciting the games will be despite the absence of fans.
Although the athletic competitions are yet to begin in a week’s time, the competition timetable will be very convenient to the Kenyan fans given that the morning sessions will begin at 9 AM in Tokyo, which will be at 3 AM in the morning in Kenya and end at 9 PM which will be 3 PM here.
One of the big questions will be how and whether the COVID 19 situation may affect the results and participation of athletes already in Tokyo with the frequent tests being done there. What happens to an athlete who qualifies to the finals then tests positive before the finals are done?
On the exciting side of things, Sifan Hassan will be going for three gold medals; in the women’s 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m, which will be historic.
As usual, Kenya’s long dominance in the men’s 3000m steeplechase event will be of great interest. In the absence of Conseslus Kipruto who is both the reigning Olympic and world champion in this event, the new stars here are left with the huge responsibility of ensuring that the Kenyan tradition of always winning this event at the major championships continues. Abraham Kibiwot, Leornard Bett, and Benjamin Kigen will gang up against the experienced Moroccan, Sofiane El Bakkali.
Another exciting element to look out for at the games will be the notion that there are championship runners and Diamond League runners. Championship races do not have pacesetters and have heats before the finals, which makes them slightly different from the one-day competitions, and there could be huge surprises and upsets.