African champ Obiri targets double glory next season - PHOTOS

Tuesday September 23 2014

Hellen Obiri after winning a past race. PHOTO | JANEK SKARZYNSKI |

Hellen Obiri after winning a past race. PHOTO | JANEK SKARZYNSKI |  AFP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Africa 1,500m champion Hellen Obiri believes she has gained enough experience to spur her to the World title bid next year in Beijing, China.

Obiri told Nation Sport that a hip injury and inexperience are some of the other factors that has slowed down her season this term.

After relinquishing her World Indoor 3,000m title to Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba in March in Sopot, Poland, Obiri bounced back to anchor Kenya’s 4x1,500m to the world record-breaking feat of 16:33.58 during the 2014 World Relay Championships in Bahamas in May.

From left: Silver medallist Hellen Onsando Obiri (Kenya), Gold winner Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba and Bronze medalist Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal pose on the podium after the women's 3000m final event at the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in the Ergo Arena in the Polish coastal town of Sopot on March 9, 2014. PHOTO | AFP

From left: Silver medallist Hellen Onsando Obiri (Kenya), Gold winner Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba and Bronze medalist Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal pose on the podium after the women's 3000m final event at the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in the Ergo Arena in the Polish coastal town of Sopot on March 9, 2014. PHOTO | AFP

Obiri’s team had World silver medallist and Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Mercy Cherono, Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich and Irene Jelagat.

Despite breaking the Glasgow Commonwealth Games record in a new time of 4:04.43 in the preliminaries in July, the 24-year-old Kenya Defence Forces corporal finished sixth (4:10.84) in the final won by Chepng’etich, who is also the Africa Cross Country champion.

Two weeks later, Obiri won the Africa title in Marrakech in a time of 4:09.53, hence earning a slot in Africa’s team for the World Cup held September 13 to 14 in Marrakech.

FAILED TO SPARKLE

Obiri failed to sparkle at the Continental Cup, finishing fourth in 4:08.15 in the metric mile race that went to Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands in 4:05.99.

Obiri started the 2014 Diamond League on a positive note, winning the 5,000m race in Doha in Area Record and DL record time of 8:20.68 in May before going for 1,500m victory in a World Lead and Meet Record time of 3:57.05 at the Prefontaine Classic the same month.

“I started off well but fatigue crept in. I think I picked so early and somehow failed to manage that well hence the slump,” Obiri explained. “But I am not disappointed since that is part of the experience I am starting to gain.”

Obiri said that the pain on her hip has been a bother and she take a break for a month to seek treatment before resuming training in November.

The 1,500m Africa champion is eyeing both the World Cross Country senior women’s 8km and World 1,500m titles next year.

Obiri said she would start with the National Cross Country Series, where she intends to defend her KDF title in January before seeking the National title for the first time ever.

“I have never participated in the National Cross Country trials but I want to give it a shot this time around and (try to) make the national team for the World Cross,” she said.

WORLD TITLE

The KDF corporal, who finished 11th in 1,500m at the 2011 Daegu World before winning the 2012 World Indoor 3,000m title, wants to go a step further and win the World title after bronze in Moscow last year.

“It will require intensive training, including running 3,000m and 5,000m races, since the format at the World Championships has changed,” disclosed Obiri, who finished 12th during the 2012 London Olympics.

“The preliminaries, semis and finals will be held back-to-back with no rest unlike before where he had breaks in between. It will be tough this time, hence the need for good training.”

The 2015 World Cross Country Championship will take place in March 28, Guiyang, Guizhou, China.