The IAAF 5,000 champion is keen on bettering her time

World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri and her husband Tom Nyaundi pose for a picture.[Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

The life of every woman changes forever when her baby is born. For 27-year-old Hellen Obiri to perfectly strike a balance between being an elite athlete and a mother, she was ready for the challenges ahead of her.   

Just like her role model Vivian Cheruiyot, who retired from track running to venture into marathon and road race running, the IAAF World 5,000m champion, born in Nyangusu village in Kisii County, came out of maternity in 2016 to claim silver in the Rio Olympic Games, then followed this with a string of world class performances in the 2017 season – which she  terms ‘lovely moments’.

She remains thrilled by her London World Championship commanding victory: “I had prepared very well. I knew how my opponents were and was ready to shake off any aggression. Winning the World Championship was my target. It was lovely moment,” said the ever-smiling Obiri.

Obiri, who started running as a 200m and 400m sprinter but was challenged by 2000 Olympic 1,500m champion Noah Ngeny to try 1,500m, said she is thankful to her husband, Tom Nyaundi, for being understanding and supportive of her career.

“Apart from being an elite runner, I’m a mother and wife. Tom has been the backbone of my success, he has been very supportive. He is there for my daughter, Tania Mocheche, because most of the time I’m abroad racing. Tania is now two years and four months. I try to make her understand that mummy is busy working to make her life better,” said Obiri.

“I know sports needs commitment. I am busy too in other businesses, but we agreed as family to be there and give support. We are happy about that,” Nyaundi said.

Being off-season now, Obiri is spending quality time with her daughter and husband before embarking on preparing for perhaps her most difficult challenge - breaking the 5,000m world record of 14:11.15 currently held by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba. Obiri posted world-leading time of 14:18.37 at the Rome Diamond League in June.

Coached by Ricky Simms, the super-agent of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, Obiri, who trains in Ngong just outside Nairobi, is not keen on representing Kenya at the Commonwealth Games in April in Australia. But she is looking forward to the IAAF World Indoor Championship on March 1-4 in Birmingham.

“Next season, I will be focusing more on bettering my time over the distance. Many people are asking me why I didn’t attempt the world record this year.

“I have a wildcard in the World Indoor Championship in Birmingham. After that my focus will be a world record attempt in the Diamond League series.”

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