Chebet spends more time farming than on track and field training

Monday, May 11th, 2020 07:49 |
Beatrice Chebet on her way to winning the junior race at the 2019 World Cross-Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. Right:Chebet tending to her poultry and dairy farms and below, Chebet is welcomed home after returning from Aarhus. PD/ERICSON

By Ericson Kiprono

For athletes who spend most of their time in training camps, life has drastically changed since the coronavirus pandemic hit home.

Gone are the days when they would spend six days in camp and one at home as they now find themselves training alone and living ‘full time’ with their families after camps were closed to curb the spreared of the dreaded disease.

However, training alone is not easy and with limited movement, the athletes find themselves with a lot of time on their hands.

Most athletes in Rift Valley have been using the extra time to give a hand-ons approach to their farms, something they were unable to do during busy days.

World Under-20 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet is one such runner and she has been busy helping her parents at home, tending to their poultry farm and maize plantation.

Chebet retreated to her rural home in Lemotit Village in Kipkelion, Kericho County where she trains alone and also spends the rest of her time helping her parents in feeding poultry and dairy cows.

People Sport caught up with her at home at the weekend and got to know how she is holding on during the forced lockdown.

“Life has changed and I miss my training mates who have been supportive in my career. We have always trained as a team but now, you fi nd yourself training alone, doing your long runs alone, but we have to adapt to the situation now,” she said.

Chebet was to start the year with the Africa Cross-Country Championships in Lome, Togo in April before featuring in the season-opening Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar this month as part of her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics in July.

However, all that went in smoke as the events were either cancelled or postponed and she has now been left to wait and hope that things return to normal soon.

But she is taking it easy, biding her time while helping out with home chores. She started her poultry project in 2018 with only 100 birds but now, they are over 2,000.

She ordered 100 improved indigenous chicken from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) in Naivasha at a cost of Sh100 per chick.

Determined to run her poultry venture professionally, she enrolled for a management course which was being offered by the organisation.

“I attended the training sessions on poultry housing, pest and disease control, stress management, poultry feeding and nutrition. I implemented what I learnt,” she said.

She also procured 1,000 more improved kienyeji (indigenous) chicks and 500 layers from KALRO. Sell some birds “I also purchased feeders, drinkers and feeds. A few months later, my layers were producing eggs. There was a ready market for my eggs and I did not struggle much. Of course along the way, I encountered a lot of challenges but I was determined to keep going,” she added.

After the chicks turned seven days old, she administered a vaccine then at four weeks, she vaccinated them against bronchitis. For the first 14 days, Chebet fed the chicks on at least 13 grams each of chick starter since it’s rich in proteins and vitamins that enable them grow faster. She continued the process until they matured.

“A while back, I had more than 5,000 birds but it became hard to manage them and I had to sell quite a number,” she said. Born in 2000, Chebet attended Saramek primary and secondary school before venturing into athletics.

Supportive parents Her parents Francis Kirui and Lilian Kirui say Chebet had huge athletics dreams from childhood.

“She had all along wanted to be a successful athlete. She worked hard throughout schools days until now as a career athlete,” said her mother Lilian.

Her father Francis attributes her success in athletics to discipline and humility. “If it was not for her efforts, I am sure we would not have reached this far,” he said, adding: “We have always encouraged her after realising she was interested in athletics.” Her coach Paul Kemei described her as an athlete with a vision. Kemei says unlike other athletes he has coached, Chebet has shown remarkable commitment.

“She is one person who is serious in training and it helped her break the world record,” he said.

With the Olympics postponed to 2021, is she worried about regaining the form she needs to bring home gold from Tokyo? “I’m planning to start two training schedules in a day.

One in the morning and another in the evening just to keep myself in shape,” she said. Before the coronavirus disrupted the athletics calendar, her training would normally begin with long morning runs on Mondays and stretches in the evening.

“At least the Olympics was postponed to next year but we are still not sure if the virus will have been contained by then. It’s my prayer that things get back to normal because athletics is my career and to many others out there,” Chebet said.

In 2018, Chebet made history as the first Kenya woman to win the 5,000m title, when she demolished a strong field to romp to victory at the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. Until her victory, a Kenyan woman had never won the 5,000m in the history of the event.

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