Kenenisa: ‘Corona taught us to be humble’

The London Marathon battle between Kenenisa Bekele and Eliud Kipchoge was widely anticipated. But the London Marathon is not going to happen - at least, not this April. Coronavirus has taken over.(BBC)

BBC Sport Africa

Kenenisa Bekele : ‘Coronavirus has taught us to be humble’

Kenenisa Bekele was more than ready to line up this Sunday for the 40th edition of the London Marathon.

“I was in a very good position and I felt comfortable,” Ethiopian Bekele, the world’s second-fastest marathon runner, says.

As part of his build up to London, the Ethiopian had won the London Big Half on 1 March – posting a new course record of one hour and 22 seconds.

But the London Marathon is not going to happen – at least, not this April. Coronavirus has taken over.

Nevertheless, Bekele is not so much affected by the postponement of the race, as by the worldwide coronavirus crisis – and the feeling of how vulnerable human beings are.

“I worry about the future. I worry about the famine that follows. We are in a lockdown in Ethiopia, but staying inside is a luxury that many cannot afford,” Bekele says.

“But I believe we will survive this storm. Humanity has done it before and overcome many great disasters before. But it will not be easy.”

Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa affected by the virus. At the moment the East African country has recorded 116 positive cases.

It is something that has made Bekele not only speak out, but act. One of Ethiopia’s most decorated athletes – he has three Olympic gold medals, two in 10,000m and one in 5000m, and holds the world records in both events – has given out his hotel in Sululta, 25 minutes outside Addis Ababa, to be used for coronavirus patients.

“I hope people can use the rooms that I have in my hotel in Sululta; I have space there,” he explains.

“I want to offer them on my costs to help out in this highly contagious and still mysterious virus that is harming the health and lives of people greatly.”

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