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Athletics has given me life, says Obiri

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Hellen Obiri of Kenya crosses the finish line to win gold in the Women’s 5000 metres final during day ten of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at The London Stadium on August 13, 2017 (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9- World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri says athletics, a sport she watched and admired on television a few years back has given her life, saying the opportunities the sport has opened up to her are amazing.

The Kenyan endurance star enjoyed an outstanding 2017 season highlighted by her world title in London and the 28-year old reveals to IAAF what the sport has given to her.

“In Kenya running is a passion. The whole nation runs. It is part of our culture!

“My first running experiences came at school. I enjoyed running the 200 metres, 400 metres and 800 metres, even though back then I was not winning. I started to race more competitively after joining the Kenyan Defence Force (where Obiri serves as a soldier),”

Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri winning at the Kenyan World Championships National Trials. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“I recall in 2010 running in bigger races such as the Kenyan Defence Force Championships. It was there I was identified by Noah Ngeny (the 2000 Olympic 1500m champion) and invited to train at the PACE Sports Management camp in Kaptagat.”

“The following year I made a big breakthrough by winning the Kenyan 1500m title and competing at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.

“In my youth, I used to watch out for all the top Kenyan athletes on TV, Of course, running is held in very high regard in Kenya, so I admire all those who represented their country.”

“If I had to pick one athlete, it would be Vivian Cheryuiyot because she was so small but strong at the same time. I am now pleased to call her a good friend.

“Athletics has given me so much. It has allowed me to travel the world, meet new people and also earn a good living allowing me to support my family back in Kenya.”

Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot (R) and Hellen Obiri celebrate after taking gold and silver respectively in the women’s 5000m

“By travelling so extensively and visiting so many countries – an opportunity which would not have come my way without athletics – it has helped my education and my understanding of the world.

“Without athletics I don’t know what I’d be doing now. Maybe, I would be a KDF soldier.

“I love to run and I feel happiest when competing. I enjoy all elements to running but personally you can’t beat the buzz and thrill from racing at major championships.”

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