She had been tipped to deliver Kenya’s second gold medal at the Olympics – after Pamela Jelimo in 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Although she brought home a bronze medal, Margaret Wambui Nyairera’s well-built physique remains the unending talking point.
When she won the Olympic 800m national trials at the Kipchoge Keino last year, the crowds inside the stadium were on their feet, with all manner of gestures.
Her win in Eldoret and photos published in the national newspapers triggered a fierce debate over her gender, but Nyairera, a rural girl from Endarasha in Nyandarua County, was unperturbed.
Nyairera’s muscular build resembles that of South Africa’s Olympic champion Caster Semenya and silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba
It now remains to be seen whether she will be picked to anchor the mixed relay squad at the 42nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, on Sunday.
Athletics Kenya, according to the IAAF entry rule, named six athletes, but four (two men and two women) will compete. “I have shed some weight since reporting to camp. I think I am now fit enough for the two-kilometre run (one loop of the cross country course) in Kampala,” Nyairera said after training at St Mark’s Teachers Training College in Kigari, Embu.
Three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, Beatrice Chepkoech, Winfred Mbithe, Mark Bett and Bernard Kipkorir are in the mixed relay lineup. But Nyairera, 20, is a fun-loving athlete and has been dogged by claims of possessing higher testosterone levels although she has not been subjected to any gender testing and international scrutiny that clouded Semenya’s victory at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
She loves music and dancing and discovered her talent at Endarasha Primary School, when she was made to run 400m by her games teacher, a task she easily accomplished.
In June, Nyairera settled for silver medal in 400m at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Durban, South Africa in a time of 52.24 behind Zambia’s Mupopo Kabange (51.56) as she tuned up her speed ahead of the national trials.
She attended Tetu High School where she made good use of her athletics talent, making the team to World Junior Championships to Oregon, USA, in 2014m. She won the 800m gold medal at the Oregon race.
Nyairera was Kenya’s sole competitor in Olympics 800m final.