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Silver medallist Kiyeng gears up for national Olympic trials

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | April 28th 2021
Hyvin Kiyeng crosses the line to win 5000m finals during the National police championships at Kasarani Stadium [Courtesy]

With the stage set, stars are ready for the anticipated women’s 3,000m steeplechase showdown at the Olympic Games that start on July 24 in Tokyo, Japan.

And Hyvin Kiyeng, the 2015 world 3,000m steeplechase champion, has lofty dreams in the Asian nation: to reclaim her top spot at the global stage and strike Kenyan women’s maiden Olympic gold medal in the water and barriers race.

It’s all about the hunt for women’s first Olympic 3,000m steeplechase gold medal that adds to Eunice Jepkorir’s silver at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, which stands out as the only women’s water and barriers medal in Kenya’s Olympic trophy cabinet.

In 2016, Kiyeng stood high chances of bagging the title only to lose to Kenyan-born Bahraini Ruth Jebet.

Having produced a brilliant showing at the Diamond League meetings in recent years, Kiyeng will no doubt lead the chase for the missing jewel against strong opposition from Ethiopia, Tunisia and Bahrain.

Kiyeng, a glowing alumnae of athletics-rich Sing’ore Girls Secondary School in Keiyo North, will be up against a classy line-up that includes Tunisia’s Olympic champion and world silver medallist Habiba Ghribi and Olympic bronze medallist Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia.

That is if she makes the squad against stiff challenge from world champion and record holder over the distance  Beatrice Chepkoech during Athletics Kenya national trials on June 26-27.

But that doesn’t seem to bother Kiyeng, who has vowed to stop any aggression in the Japanese capital.

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“I am preparing well. I know that Kenya has never won an Olympic gold in the race and we feel it’s high time we broke the jinx. That will only happen if we plan well and stop looking at specific athletes. Even an upcoming athlete can pull up a surprise,” she said.

Kiyeng said she prays to God for the world to overcome Covid-19 pandemic.

“We keep preparing well hoping that the Covid-19 pandemic conditions would soon get better,” she said.

In the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games, Kiyeng had won Shanghai and Olso as well as finishing second in Eugene Diamond League meetings –behind Jebet.

Kiyeng, who comes from Kocholwo village in Keiyo South, said: “I have prepared well. I have enough experience since competing at the world championships in Moscow and hope to give my best in the trials. I know Kenyans will face strong challenge from Bahrain, Ethiopia and Tunisia in Tokyo.”

She is expected to marshal forces with Chepkoech, who has been in tip-top form in the last two seasons.

But deep down in Kaptagat, when coach Patrick Sang is all out sitting down preparing the 3000m steeplechase training programme ahead of the Olympic Games, he must wonder if he has enough cover to protect Kiyeng and Chepkoech against Ethiopian, Ugandan and Tunisian invasion in Tokyo. 

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