Betsy Saina explains what it will mean to represent USA at Paris Olympics

Kenyan-born American marathoner Betsy Saina has revealed what is motivating her to represent USA at the Paris Olympics after ditching her motherland in 2021.

Kenyan-born American marathoner Betsy Saina believes she is representing her whole family by running for the United States.

Saina switched allegiance from Kenya to the US in 2021, having represented her country of birth in 10,000m at the 2016 Rio Olympics before later moving to the marathon.

The 35-year-old is gearing up for her first Olympics trials with Team USA set to be held in Orlando, Florida and she has explained what it would mean to don the American colours at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“I'm really excited. Like I said, things have changed a lot,” Saina told CITIUS Magazine.

“The U.S. has become my home because it's been over ten years since I moved there. That makes me feel really emotional. My heart is full.

“I'm so grateful to be able to represent the U.S., after all I've gained in living there: to my two sisters living there, my son being born in the U.S. – it's a family thing for me. So I'm running for the whole family now.”

Saina moved to the US when she joined Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, later earning an agriculture and life sciences degree with a focus on nursing.

She has continued to shuttle between the US and Kenya, mostly training back home, including now as she prepares for the 2024 Olympics, alongside her long-time friend Joyciline Jepkosgei.

Saina admits it is much easier to train with Kenyan runners now knowing that she will not be competing with them for a ticket.

“I went to high school at the same time as her (Jepkosgei), so I knew her from back in 2005,” she added of her friend and training partner.

“When I made the decision [to switch allegiance] I really wanted to train with her because we have had a long-time friendship. But I was a little bit like, ‘oh my gosh, she's run 64!’

“But I looked at myself and I was like, ‘I need to challenge myself every day.’ When you're running with someone who is better than you, it's a privilege.

“I remember when I was training for Sydney and we were doing the same workouts, and my coach could use the time [difference between us] like, ‘hey, for this long run you still have like one or two minutes, you know, that you need to improve on.’ And I remember when I started maybe it was like four minutes and then by the time I was going for the race, I was closing down to like a minute."

Saina says unlike other runners, she enjoys training with Jepkosgei as she does not see her as a rival which makes things easier.

“It's been a big challenge, in a good way,” said Saina. “She's been helping me so much for the last month. She's not super competitive in training. Like, I know some people, when you're training with them, they can start saying, no, I don't want her to be close to me.”

“But for Joyciline, she really wants me, you know, to be on the same caliber with her, especially knowing that she's not in the same team with me. I love training with her. And when I come back from the Trials, I'll be able to keep training with her, whatever happens,” added the Sydney Marathon champion.

posted Friday January 12th
by Joel Omotto