NAIROBI, Kenya, January 16- Having become the first Kenyan female to command the world in the 3000m steeplechase dominated by the country’s men for ages, Milcah Chemos Cheywa has trained her guns on dipping under the 9:07 threshold this year.
The Inspector of Police traded roles last Saturday when she turned up at the department’s Cross Country Championships as the coach of her Police Training College (PTC) team as opposed to running for honours.
“It was good for once to be in charge of a team with my fellow instructor at PTC (Commonwealth champion) Richard Mateelong, as the Team Manager. I was not intending to race this weekend but rather, give others a chance to make a name,” the first-time world champion explained her change in co-sign.
As she watched her team motor around Nairobi’s Ngong Racecourse course in search of points, Chemos took sometime to underscore her outlook for 2014 that followed her most successful season yet at an event she took up in 2009 when her forays in 1500m and 5000m yielded scarce return.
“It is not my wish to defend my Commonwealth title in Scotland this season. My biggest aim is to attempt at running my personal best that is under 9:07.14 I achieved in 2012,” the Africa record holder stated.
“As for the African Championship, I’m yet to decide but I shall see where it falls in relation to the IAAF Diamond League calendar then I see,” the reigning continental crown holder added.
Having broken Russian hearts at the Luzhniki Stadium when she ended the home runners choke hold on the world women steeplechase crown they had held since 2007, Chemos beams with pride when the images of her triumphant 9:11.65 run in Moscow last summer.
“It was something unbelievable! Something so special since I had looked for it for so long,” the four-time IAAF Diamond League winner exclaimed.
“It was more than anything I have ever achieved; it was a great gift from God that day that has no equal. Doing it in Russia made it even sweeter since for long, we had tried to beat them at major events without success, it felt like a huge load had been lifted off my shoulders,” she added.
Having delivered the world title at an event known as ‘Kenya’s race’ owing to the shattering dominance of their men, Chemos is quick to note that her epic victory does not signal the beginning of an era where the country’s female runners will emulate their counterparts.
“The competition in women’s steeplechase is tougher since we have Russians, Ethiopians and athletes from Spain doing very well. It is my hope that we can have more girls from Kenya coming up so that we can improve,” she explained.
In Moscow, Chemos led erstwhile training partner and Golazo Sports team mate, Lydia Chepkirui to the Kenyan 1-2, applying icing to the cake.
“When I turned around and saw she had taken silver, I was even happier. I felt like a mother who had given birth to a good kid and I pray for her that she will produce someone and help her the way I did,” Chemos said of her protégé who was injured during the Police Cross meet.
Chemos rose to prominence at the 2009 Worlds in Berlin where she took surprise bronze on her debut season in the water and barriers race.
Heading to the 2011 edition in Daegu, South Korea, as the overwhelming bet, Chemos again won the third medal as the irresistible Russian force led by Yulia Zarapova.
At her first Olympics in London the following year, again Chemos was the bookies choice and again Zarapova proved to be a bar too high as she finished fourth.
However, her crowning moment was not far away in Russia as she finally fulfilled her favourite role to perfection with a composed command over her field.
The hosts were locked with news that Zarapova would not defend a day to the start of the global showpiece.
-By Kimathi Kamau