Nyairera keen to jail relays gold at Kampala World Cross


Margaret Nyairera competes in 4X2000m relay race at the National Cross Country Championships at ...
Margaret Nyairera competes in 4X2000m relay race at the National Cross Country Championships at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya on February 18, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Having tasted the podium for the first time as a senior during the 2016 Rio Olympics, women 800m bronze winner, Margaret Nyairera is looking forward to strike gold in the mixed relay at the 2017 IAAF World Cross in Kampala, Uganda next month.

This according to her will be the perfect launch pad to her ambition of becoming Kenya’s third female world champion over two-laps at the August IAAF World Championships in London in the hallowed footsteps of Janeth Jepkosgei (2007) and her protégé Eunice Sum (2013).

In her first ever senior outing for Team Kenya, Nyairera, then a gifted 20 year-old, made an early exit at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China after clocking 2:03.52 for seventh in the heats.

She had checked in Beijing as a World Junior title holder having won gold at the 15th edition of biennial global showpiece in Eugene, Oregon when she ran a then lifetime best of 2:00.49.

Nyairera was selected in Team Kenya 4X2000m mixed relay team on Saturday following the National Cross Championships in Nairobi having helped her Kenya Prisons Service team to finish third behind arch rivals Kenya Police.

In Kampala, she is hoping to convince selectors to pair her with three-time world men 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop, a 2007 World Cross junior winner in a bid to pursue history.

The mixed relay has been added to the World Cross menu to encourage mid distance runners especially those outside the dominant East Africa to be involved in the now biennial global showpiece that has been suffering from declining prominence worldwide.

Therefore, the first ever winners of the event will be crowned in Kampala.

For Nyairera who recently graduated as a Prisons wardress, engaging in the cross country forms a big part of her stamina training ahead of the track season where she hopes to trump South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba who trumped her to gold in Rio last summer.

“The relay was not that bad since I have been doing long runs so that I can have endurance. It will help me a lot when I will be going to the field because I will be in a good position to finish my work outs. What is remaining is (training for) speed,” Nyairera told Citizen Digital after she booked herself a ticket in Team Kenya.

Nyairera adds that she took a keen interest in the mixed relay to be among the pioneers in the new event.

The 22-year-old is in the relay squad alongside Kiprop (Police), Olympian Beatrice Chepkoech (Police) and Bernard Kipkorir (Kenya Defence Forces) in the provisional 4x2000m with Winfred Mbithe (Police) and Mark Bett (Prisons) joining the team as reserve athletes.

Nyairera is not new to relays having won the 4X400m bronze medal at the 2015 African Championships in Durban, South Africa where she also took silver in the lap-race.

-Prisons wardress-

Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay (L) and Kenya's Margaret Nyairera Wambui compete in the Women's 800m Round 1 during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016. OLIVIER MORIN / AFP
Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay (L) and Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui compete in the Women’s 800m Round 1 during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016. PHOTO/OLIVIER MORIN /AFP

She explained her decision to join Prisons where she graduated from the Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru just days before the Nationals as opposed to the Defence Forces where her former coach, Sammy Maina Macharia, had recommended.

“My decision to join Prisons was because the KDF and the Police have several good athletes. So I opted for prisons so that I can boost sports there.

“They motivate me a lot by cheering me as well as being happy see me representing them. It gives me the morale to do more training,” Nyairera explained.

Her choice was also aided by the prompting she took from retired two-time Olympics silver medallist and world marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba who now heads the sports department at Prisons.

Kampala will be latest stop in the blossoming career of the powerfully built Nyairera who broke into the international limelight in Oregon, USA.

Having learnt a hard lesson while mixing with the seniors in China, Nyairera came back and started preparing for the Olympics last year but emphasized more on her speed work with the help of her former trainer Macharia.

In Durban, she opted to scale down to the lap-race to test her speed fully aware that Semenya and Niyonsaba would battle out for the gold in her 800m speciality.

 

She booked herself a ticket to the African Championships in Durban SA that were slated for June 22-26 after taking top honours during the 2015 National Championships.

At the 400m finals, Nyairera clocked 52.24 for second behind Zambian winner Kabange Mupopo (51.56).

Nyairera wanted to have a comfortable run in case 800m finalists in Rio decided to run under 1:55.00 a decision that paid well with an Olympics bronze medal.

Semenya reigned supreme in 1:55.28 followed closely by Niyonsaba (1:56.49) as Nyairera stopped the timer at 1:56.89 to round the top three.

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