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Is Hellen Obiri the next road race star to watch?

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | April 5th 2021
Hellen Obiri in a past action. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

After finishing third, is Obiri the next road race star to watch?

After a surprising victory at the Cursa dels Nassos in Barcelona 10km on December 31, two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri opened a new chapter in her stellar career.

The end-year win marked the beginning of more victories for the 31-year-old track star.

Yesterday, after nine years of ruling the track, Obiri went down into annals of history with an impressive third place at the Istanbul Half marathon, sending a strong message that her transition to road races would shake the sporting world.

Obiri’s spectacular 64 minutes, 51 seconds is the fastest debut half marathon in history.

During the end-year 10km stun, an enduring Obiri, despite a fall, displayed a stellar pace, breaking away of a strong leading pack before finding herself running alone after her pacesetter Carlos Castillejo dropped out a few minutes later.

Hellen Obiri competes in the Mixed Relays during the AK/LOTTO National Cross Country Championship at the Ngong Race Course on February 13, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

In yesterday’s 21km, Obiri displayed a splendid show, sticking to the leading pack comprising world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and world record holder Brigid Kosgei.

She started her career in a disappointing 11th place finish in 1500m at the 2011 World championships in Daegu, South Korea.

A year later, in 2012, she graduated to 3000m, winning the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

After the breakthrough in Istanbul, Obiri sustained a decorated career in the track, running away with the world championship titles in 2017 and 2019.

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Obiri was named one of the top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2017.

The Olympic 5,000m silver medallist was hoping to debut at the Ras al Khaimah half marathon in February but the race was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic. She eyes a maiden double in 5,000m and 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics after a silver in the former four years ago in Rio.

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