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Mercy Cherono, world-class athlete tells us why she doesn't let money confuse her

Achieving Woman

mercy cherono

It is said you are the most beautiful athlete in Kenya. That you are a breath of fresh air... what is the secret?

(Laughs) Thank you. I do not apply anything on my face. It is all about belief in myself that I am beautiful and that shines through. It is also about living a healthy life, taking lots of water, drinking lots of Mursik. All these help me to be who I am.

Your two fashion icons... name them.

International actress Lupita Nyong'o. I adore her unique style. Nancy Kigen, my stylist. I love her fashion sense and she makes sure that I dress up simple but looking all nice.

You have a stylist? Most athletes do not take such effort

I believe in living my own life and do what I love even when those around me do things different. It does not mean I am better than them, this is just who I want to be and do things.

What is it that you are?

I am fashion-conscious. I love being presentable, dressing up in African-inspired outfits. I do get attention from people and I take that well.

What makes people from your community the fastest runners?

I think it has something do with our Mursik. The drink has nutrients that enables us to make rounds. Our cultural foods too might be a reason. There are also great athletes from our community, like my grandfather and Janeth Jepkosgei and others, that we look up to, who inspire us, support us, and keep us going.

When the money comes, most athletes have nothing to show for it

Well, when some of us get the money, people come from all over to get a piece. These people confuse the minds of the athletes and they end up spending their money. We have wise athletes who plan how to invest their money.

Athletes, do they appreciate education? Are they satisfied with the money?

I cannot agree with that as that would be generalising every one of us based on a few individuals. I want to take up a course in Business Management soon so I can manage myself and my future ventures.

What don’t people know about athletes?

That we do not run for the money; we run to win. We are good people capable of socialising. We do not talk a lot though because we like to put our words into action. We train very hard that is why we keep winning.

What did you have to let go of to be an athlete?

I wanted to pursue a career as an air hostess. I love how they dress and serve people. When I became an athlete, I had to let that dream go. I do not think I can pursue it ever, that dream is gone.

When was it that you had to run, outside of the track?

One day when I was heading home, all alone. It was very dark in the night. When I entered our homestead, I did not see anyone. My father, who was hiding inside, pulled a prank on me by scaring me. I ran so fast until he told me that it was him.

At 23, you have achieved so much. What does it take for somebody to get to where you are?

Trusting God for guidance. There is relief in prayer. It takes a lot of discipline, belief in oneself, determination and love for the sport. If you love the sport, you can get as many trophies. There is nothing impossible to achieve in life.

Have you gotten yourself a better half?

I do not want to answer that; it is personal. All I want now is to concentrate first in my career and for God to show me the way. In case I do not have a man now (laughs), I would want somebody who understands my career first, respects me, loves me, is caring and God-fearing.

This year is almost ending, what are you grateful for?

Through God’s grace, I have won as many trophies, I cannot keep up. I thank God for all He has done for me. Through the sports I love, I have got to travel and represent Kenya in many countries. I pray for more blessings in the coming year.


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