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March 24, 2018

Obiri upbeat

Hellen Obiri in action during national trials in Eldoret. /ENOS TECHE
Hellen Obiri in action during national trials in Eldoret. /ENOS TECHE

Former world indoor 3,000m champion Hellen Obiri is optimistic her switch to the 5,000m race will bear instant results at the Rio Olympic Games.

Soon after her win at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Obiri went into maternity leave but on return, she upgraded to the longer race and has not looked back since.

The African champion over the three-lap race said she had to switch events after failing to rediscover her finishing kick in 1,500m. After coming from maternity, I could not run as fast in the 1,500m and therefore decided to move up,” she observed. “I have made good progress in the 5,000m and I am happy with how my training has been so far.”

This will be her second upgrade after starting her career as an 800m runner in 2010-11.

“My focus is to be on the podium. This is a championship race and time will not be significant. If the pace is high, I am good, if it is slow, I am good too,” she added.

“I have had a good kick in my recent races but not yet to perfection. I am hopeful I will have attained this by the time we leave for Rio early next month.”

She revealed that the thought of working alongside double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot and former Commonwealth champion Mercy Cherono is a great feeling.

“We have a good team and we have made it our collective responsibility to be in the final. Here, it will be anybody’s race but we all hope to be on the podium.”

Obiri started the year with a season’s best performance of 3:59.34 while finishing second at the Shanghai Diamond League in May, behind Faith Kipyegon who clocked a national and meet record time of 3:56.82.

She then won the IAAF world challenge in Beijing five days later in a time of 4:02.11. She won the Eugene Diamond League 5,000m race in 14:32.02 before registering her worst placing of the season when she placed sixth in 4:05.88 at the Stockholm Diamond League. However, Obiri recovered to win the 3000m race at this month’s Monaco Diamond League in a perfect front-running display.

Meanwhile, Obiri has tipped her countrywoman Faith Kipyegon for glory in Rio, which would be the country’s capture of the title last won by Nancy Jebet Lagat at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “She has been running very well and I believe she has what it takes to win the title,” said Obiri.


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