BY GILBERT WANDERA and Oscar Pilipili
When Sally Kipyego emerged last year to win silver in the World Championships, many took notice.
Kipyego, who had just graduated from a United States of America (USA) college with a nursing degree, surprised many by qualifiying, considering that she was considered an ‘outsider’.
Now Kipyego has registered another first by qualifying to represent the country in both the 10,000m and 5,000m during the Olympic Games.
But even with high expectations on her shoulders, Kipyego insists she is not under pressure to perform in London.
“I am excited to have made it in both events and now I look forward to doing well in London, but this does not put me under any pressure,” she said at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, where the team is training.
The World silver medalist said her training is going on well. Kipyego said it was difficult qualifying in both events given the unpredictability of Kenyan trials.
“When it comes to Kenyan trials there is no knowing what to expect because everyone is a top contender and it was no different this time round,” she said.
Despite many Kenyan students opting to stay in America after completing their studies, Kipyego said she opted to come back because of the nature of her career.
“As a track athlete, I can only compete for one country at a time. After completing my studies, I was and still a Kenyan citizen so it was obvious that Kenya was the country I could represent,” she said.
She added: “There are probably more opportunities in the United States and that is why a lot of people choose to stay and explore but because I choose to run I had to come back to Kenya.
“I get access to great facilities in the USA and that’s the reason I train there. It is a shame that with the tradition that Kenya has and the success that our athletes have achieved over the years we still have few good facilities for athletes to use.
“For example, in places like Iten and Eldoret where hundreds of great athletes reside we still luck a single modern track or stadium.”
Regarding double world champio Vivian Cheruiyot, Kipyego said: “I think Vivian is a great athlete and I would like to keep it at just that.”
“I’m happy to be team mates with Vivian and the fact that we shall both be doubling in 10,000m and 5000m at the Olympics motivates me to a great extent,” Kipyego said.
“Looking at her history, Vivian is a great athlete and training or competing alongside her is the wish of every runner,” said Kipyego.
Kipyego stated that although the Olympics are likely to be competitive, she looks towards finishing towards the medal bracket in her first appearance at the Summer Games.
“Running can be tricky and surprises do happen. I respect for all women going to London, but I promise to give all of what I can do with focus on ultimate prize which is gold medal,” she said.
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Sally Kipyego Olympic Games