NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Having made a successful transition from the 1500m to 5000m race, Hellen Obiri hopes she will carry on the impressive performance to the Rio Games as she aims for an Olympic medal on her second attempt.
Obiri, the 2012 World Indoor champion, believes she is in fine form to give Kenya her first Olympic gold medal in the women’s 5000m, a race that has been dominated by Ethiopians since the 2004 Athens Games.
The 26-year-old Kenya Defence Forces runner will be joined by world champion Vivian Cheruiyot and Commonwealth Games title holder Mercy Cherono in flying the Kenyan flag as they seek to stop speedster Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia.
Obiri, who took time off the 2015 season to welcome her first child, is having a remarkable season so far after storming to victories at the Eugene Oregon Diamond League in 5000m (14:32.02) before recently leading compatriots Mercy Cherono and Janet Kisa to a podium sweep in the 3000m (8:24.27) at the Monaco meeting.
“I feel good because I have regained back my shape despite starting training in January and I thank God I made the Olympics team. I have stayed out the whole of last year so my target was only to compete in Olympics and not any other competition,” the 2013 1500m world bronze medallist underscored.
“I decided to compete in 5000m since I don’t have speed for 1500m now that I have come from maternity leave. I have done a lot of long runs to cut my weight,” Obiri, who finished 10th in the 1500m final at her first Olympics in London 2012 said.
Since 2012, Obiri has tried in vain to win a title in an international event but she believes Rio will be the ideal place to achieve the feat in the 12 and-a-half lap race.
“Championships are nobody’s game because there are no pace makers, Vivian (Cheruiyot) is a strong woman and so is Mercy (Cherono). We are going to do our best in Rio. We have only three weeks to prepare and I am not going to fear anybody. I am going to run my race and hope Kenya will win,” she stated.
The Kenyan trio will meet stiff competition from their perennial rivals Ethiopia, headlined by Ayana, the fastest runner this season, Senbere Teferi, and Ababl Yeshaneh. 2008 Beijing champion Tirunesh Dibaba will be on standby as reserve.