Kyeva credits Masters for new lease of life for old athletes

The 2019 Poznan Marathon champion says the competition can be a fallback plan for retired runners to remain active even after hanging their spikes.

In Summary

•Kyeva finished second in the men's 1500m and first in the men's 5000m

•Traditionally a marathoner, Kyeva said he competed at the Africa Masters to try out on the track

•World Masters Athletics president Jugmann lauded the organisation of the continental showpiece and the level of competition 

Collins Kyeva in action during the Africa Masters Athletics Championship at Nyayo Stadium.
Collins Kyeva in action during the Africa Masters Athletics Championship at Nyayo Stadium.

After an exceptional performance at the past weekend's Open Africa Athletics Masters, Cosmas Kyeva has lauded the idea behind the event as evidence that sports never stops regardless of one's age. 

Kyeva said the competition — meant for athletes aged 35 years and above — enables many to remain active even after hanging their spikes and guards against loneliness and boredom, which affects many retired athletes. 

"It shows that athletics is a lifetime career that only ends when you die. It is a profession and a fallback plan for athletes after they retire from active running. When you remain active like the way most people here do, it keeps you in good shape and health," Kyeva said. 

The 2019 Poznan Marathon champion added: "I would like to encourage those of us who have retired to come and try out at events such as these. Apart from just keeping healthy, they will also earn something into their pockets considering those who win here were feted."

Kyeva clocked 03:59.6 to finish second in the men's 1500m at the continental showpiece at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi as Abednego Chesebe cut the tape in 03:56.2. 

Another Kenyan, Philemon Kipchirchir, finished third in 04:00.6 to complete a podium sweep for the host nation. 

Kyeva was also heads and shoulders above other runners in the men's 5000m final where he came first ahead of Richard Lagat 

Reflecting on the race, the 2016 Debno Marathon, said he has had his eye on the Masters for a while despite being traditionally a roadrunner. 

"I have run on the track and today I thought I should come and try my luck. I was optimistic of winning the race and I thank God for the victory today," Kyeva, who boasts a personal best of 2:09:57 in the marathon, said. 

During the same event, World Masters Athletics president Margit Jugmann expressed her joy at the organisation of the games and the enthusiasm exhibited by participants. 

"Personally, from this championship, I have learned about the Kenyan culture and was quite privileged to be your guest. I have also been really encouraged to see that the athletes are generally happy and enthusiastic to compete, interact, and make friends with one another," Jugmann said. 

She added that the event has proved to the rest of the world that Africa is more than equipped to host athletics competitions even as Kenya hopes to stage the World Championships in 2025. 

"It shows that we can hold athletics events if we have the routes and the facilities in place especially in this time of the pandemic. So this championship holds an important place in our hearts," the German said.