World champion Obiri to skip World Indoor Championships
World champion Hellen Obiri will snub the World Indoor Championship to defend the World Cross Country title she won in her debut last year in Aarhus, Denmark on a course that was described as brutal.
The 30-year-old became the first female runner to win a World Indoor, World Outdoor and World Cross-Country with her gold medal clinched in a time of 36.14 in the 10.24km course.
Defending this title goes against her sentiments immediately after clinching gold in Denmark as she had intimated that she would not be attempting another World Cross Country event.
Obiri has been forced to make a choice between the two events after the World Indoor Championship, slated for March 13-15 this year, was postponed to March next year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The March 20, 2021 date for the World Cross Country in Australia remained unchanged.
“I have chosen to defend my title in cross country and that is what I will be training for going forward as well as for the Olympics in July.
I have seen the course for next year and it is just as tough if not more unforgiving compared to the Denmark course last year,” said Obiri.
The 5,000m world champion says due to the government directives on avoiding crowds and social distancing she has slowed down on her training. The same has been necessitated by having no particular event to compete in the near future.
“Right now I am training like I would if I were off-season. Just one session in the morning alone is enough as I am taking it easy until the season opens up.
I was preparing to start the season on April 17 at Doha in the Diamond League series so my body was in competitive shape but we have to accept the situation now,” she added.
Obiri foresees no difficulties in training for two major events in 2021 and she maintains nothing will change from her preparations in 2019 when she competed at the World Cross Country as well as the World Athletics Championship.
“With the Austria course almost similar to the Denmark one, I am likely to make no changes in the training schedule.
I will concentrate on hill work, speed work and endurance as I look forward to defending my title.
I will also be using the March event as part of my build-up for the Olympics.
I had planned to double at the Olympics but now we will have to wait and see how this goes then I can make that decision based on how much preparation time we will have, “ she said.
The mother of one also weighed in on the congested international athletics calender that is likely to drag through to the next Olympics in 2024 saying that athletes will need to choose events to compete in to avoid burnout.
“We have a packed 2021, World Athletics Championship happening back-to-back in 2022 and 2023, Olympics in 2024, Commonwealth Games and other continental competitions and Diamond leagues in between.
One will need to limit the number of races and events they compete to stay in shape and avoid fatigue, injuries and burnout,” Obiri said.
She added: “This situation is an eye opener for all athletes to venture into other money-making engagements as our careers are short lived and can be affected by any global pandemic.
I am grateful to have a job in the forces that will keep me going in these unprecedented times but some fellow athletes could suffer if this drags on for long.”