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Chesebe ready to defy odds to make Team Kenya to the Olympics

2011 All-African Games women's 800m bronze medalist, Sylvia Chesebe has warned her competitors not to underestimate her ahead of the Olympic trials.

Eleven athletes will vie for a spot in the women's 800 team at the Nyayo National Stadium this weekend. So far, only four have the Olympic qualification mark of 1:59.30.

Chesebe is yet to qualify as her fastest time this year is 2:03.92— set at last month's National Championships.

Motivated to make her Olympic debut, Chesebe exuded confidence in posting the qualification time at Nyayo Stadium.

“I am confident I will attain the Olympic qualification time and make Team Kenya. Competition will no doubt be tough but winning depends on preparations and I am well prepared,” Chesebe stated.

Chesebe, however, acknowledged her competitors but also warned them not to overlook her.

“I am not underrating anybody and they should not underestimate me either. I am here to push everyone to the limit,” she added.

Headlining the list is world champion Mary Moraa, who already has the qualification mark of 1:56.03 posted in Budapest, Hungary, last year. 

 Vivian Kiprotich is the other athlete to watch having qualified after clocking 1:58.26 during the Kip Keino Classic, where she placed second behind Moraa (1:57.96).

21-year-old Nelly Chepchirchir clocked 1:58.98 for fourth place at the same event while Naomi Korir clocked 1:59.19 during the Grifone meeting in Italy last month.

Others on the list include national champion Lilian Odira, Dorcas Ewoi, Sarah Moraa, Mweni Kalimi, Winnie Kipsang and Naumglorious Chepchumba.

Chesebe emphasised that making the Olympics team would be a dream come true and will be hoping to end Kenya’s 16-year wait for gold in the two-lap race.

"The Olympics are a dream for every athlete. It is the biggest stage to display your talent. It would mean a lot for me to make my first appearance and also win gold for Kenya,” she stated.

Kenya’s only gold medal in the women’s 800m came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics through Pamela Jelimo, who clocked 1:54.87 to clinch the title. She led leading compatriot Janeth Jepkosgei (1:56.07) and Morocco’s Hasna Benhassi (1:56.73) to the podium.

Jelimo won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics in 1:57.59) while  Margaret Wambui (1:56.89) posted the same at the Rio Olympics.

Coached by her husband, Michael Cheren, Chesebe is focusing on fine-tuning her speed to ensure she is in prime condition for the trials.

“I am working on my speed. I already have the endurance, but I need to improve my speed, especially my finishing, to ensure I make the Olympic time at the trials,” she stated.

On Friday, Chesebe took part in the World Masters Athletics Trials at the Ulinzi Sports Complex, winning the 400m W35 category in 54.24 secs.

She hopes that competing in the 400m race will help her in improving her finishing.

“I took part in the 400m at the World Masters trials to work on my finishing. I hope it will pay off come the trials,” she stated.

During the 2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, Chesebe clocked 2:04.16 behind Ethiopia's Fantu Magiso (2:03.22) and Uganda's Annet Negesa (2:01.81).

The 37-year-old is also a silver medallist at the 2014 World Relay Championships in Nassau, Bahamas, in the 4x800m clocking 8:04.28 together with Agatha Jeruto, Janeth Jepkosgei and Eunice Jepkoech.

(06/10/2024) Views: 139 ⚡AMP
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