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Champ Manangoi shakes off injury, eyes gold at Tokyo Olympic Games

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-01-03 09:58
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NAIROBI -- Commonwealth Games champion Elijah Manangoi believes Kenya has the best talent to recapture the 1,500 meters title at the Tokyo Olympic Games in August.

However, Manangoi says he will only focus on the Diamond League and the Olympics skipping the crucial World Athletics Indoor Tour, which will culminate with the World Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China in March.

Manangoi, who had to let go of his World title last year without a fight because of a knee injury, says he has gone over the cliff and will be back in action early enough to prepare his assault at the Olympic Games.

"Since Asbel Kiprop won gold in Beijing 2008 Olympics, we have failed to rise to the occasion. It will be my first Olympics if I make the team and I believe I have the strength and experience to challenge for the medal," said Manangoi on Thursday.

Manangoi lost his world title to compatriot and training mate Timothy Cheruiyot, but he is keen to shake off the nagging knee injury, which he rued for forcing him out of the 2019 season.

"It was a bad injury; I would term it a monster injury because it took away what I desired most in my career. I want to forget it and a good season in 2020 will help a great deal," said Manangoi.

"The truth is last season was too bad for me after missing the world championships due to a knee injury. But now I am back, ready to contest for the Olympic Games title," he said.

Should Manangoi make the team, it will be his second attempt at the Olympics. He made the team to the 2016 Rio Olympics together with Asbel Kiprop but disappointed as he finished in position 12 after taking 3:45.47.

"The experience in Rio Olympics was not what I was expecting. But it shaped my career as I changed my focus. I went on to win gold in London 2017 World Championships. Actually, Rio turned out to be a good learning curve. It was a morale booster, to be stronger and know that everything is possible if you fail and return stronger," said Manangoi.

Manangoi has started training and says he feels rejuvenated after sitting out the entire 2019 season.

"My absence in Doha for the World Championships means I start the season strong and will spend less time to recover. I hope it will be good for me. But I also know that other athletes are keen to excel in the Olympic Games," he added.

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