NAIROBI, Kenya, July 28 – Milcah Chemos was not known in the track and field industry back in 2009, yet the then 23-year-old caused a stir when she raced to a bronze medal at the Berlin World Championships.
This was despite not having had any interest in athletics until 2006 when the Kenya Police employed her as a constable and she met the Commonwealth men steeplechase champion, Richard Mateelong, who inspired to take up the sport.
The rest as they say is history and as the 27-year-old put her focus on the Moscow World Championships, there is one thing that will inspire her — desire to beat her own fear and win gold.
Together with Gladys Kemboi, Hyvin Kiyeng and Lydia Chepkirui, Chemos will carry the country flag in the 3,000m steeplechase race.
Chemos returns to the world championships for a third straight time with a realistic chance of wresting the gold medal away from the Russian dominance at their own doorstep.
“I have learnt my lessons. I have restricted the number of races I will run this season just to focus on the World Championships. I want to do well and that is why I will let my legs do the talking,” said Chemos.
“I lost a chance to get a medal at the London Olympics because of poor strategy. I relaxed too much and now I have to turn around the heat to my opponents and I believe Moscow will be the stage to answer my critics.”
She has won bronze twice in Berlin 2009 and Daegu two year ago. In Berlin she lost out to Marta Dominguez of Spain and Russians Yuliya Zarudneva.
Two years later in Daegu, Chemos entered started as favourite for the 3000 metres steeplechase, having won all five of the Diamond League races in which she had competed prior to the championship.
However, she was unable to improve upon her bronze medal, finishing in third place, over 10 seconds behind race winner Yuliya Zaripova.
Despite the men team having dominated the water and jumps race, Kenya is still eyeing its first gold in the race that was introduced in Helsinki, Finland in 2005, with Ugandan Dorcas Inzukuru (9:19.24) winning gold. Russian Yekaterina Volkova took the silver medal in 9:20.49 with the bronze medal going to Jeruto Kiptum of Kenya 9:26.95.
Other Kenyans have since followed Kiptum with Eunice Jepkirui the most successful after she claimed silver at the Beijing Olympics behind Spain’s Marta Dominguez.
But it has been the consistency of Chemos that has given Kenyans new imagination of how far she will go to clinch the coveted gold. Will Moscow be her answer?
Chemos won the all-Kenya battle in the women’s water and barriers race at the Rome Golden Gala last month — the first European stop in this year’s IAAF Diamond League — then descended on the Birmingham meet for another win before romping to victory at the national trials.
She will take on long-time pacesetter Lydia Chepkirui, who tops the world 3,000m steeplechase leader board with 9:13.75 she posted at the Doha meet. Chemos bask in 9:14.17 she set in Monaco last week.