NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – World champion in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Hyvin Kiyeng has said she will put all her efforts over the next one month into winning gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Kiyeng, who booked a ticket to Rio at the National Trials where she finished first in 9:28.33, will be participating in her first Olympics and is banking on her fine form this season to bag gold.
If she attains that feat, Kiyeng will write her name in history books as the first Kenyan woman steeplechaser to win gold at the Olympics in the race that was introduced at the Beijing 2008 Games.
Eunice Jepkorir, who retired from international competition, is the only woman athlete to have won a medal for Kenya in the water and barrier race when she bagged silver at the inaugural 2008 Beijing event.
However, Kiyeng is determined to lead Beatrice Chepkoech and experienced Lydia Rotich to glory when the first round will be held on August 13.
“I am happy to represent my country in Rio Olympics. I will go and prepare well, work hard and bring good results. My target is to make it into the medal bracket and I pray that I stay healthy so that I can go and bring gold just like I did last year at the Beijing World Championships,” the 24-year-old stated.
Since winning the world title, Kiyeng’s confidence has soared, taking a grip of this season’s Diamond League standings with wins in Shanghai and Oslo, though her most noteworthy performance came in Eugene when she was beaten at the tape by her main competitor Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet of Bahrain.
The win against Kiyeng saw Jebet, a world junior champion become the second woman to break the nine-minute barrier when she clocked an Asian record of 8:59.97.
Despite the defeat, Kiyeng remains at the forefront of the race as she looks to maintain consistency following the footsteps of Milkah Chemos who won gold at the 2013 Moscow World Championships and 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
“It will not be easy in Rio because I know Jebet is in good form, she beat me in Eugene but I am confident I will get a medal for my country. I liked athletics since I was very young. I used to buy sports magazines and I liked to read about Eliud Kipchoge, Catherine Ndereba and Isabella Ochichi,” Kiyeng, the fifth eldest of eight children, asserted.
-Born to steeple-
The diminutive steeplechaser has grown gradually in the race since her debut in 2011 when she claimed gold at the Maputo All Africa Games before bagging bronze the following year at the Africa Championships.
It’s the same year in 2012 that she finished fifth at the Kenyan Olympic Trials for London Games, failing to qualify for the Summer Games.
Kiyeng trains in Kaptagat under the guidance of a three-strong coaching team led by former Olympic and world steeplechase champion Patrick Sang and believes she was far better prepared for last season thanks to a shift in approach.
Her high-quality group includes two-time London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge. “He’s my mentor and a very good man,” the National Police Service officer said.