The 2013 World 3000m Steeplechase champion, Milcah Chemos, is hopeful that the Kenyan women will reign supreme in the water jump and barrier event at the ongoing IAAF World Championships in London.
The Kenyan quartet of defending champion and Olympic silver medalist Hyvin Kiyeng, world U18 and U20 Champion Celliphine Chespol, Beatrice Chepkoech and Purity Kirui form the Kenyan steeplechase team.
They take on the track in the heats with the defending champion Hyvin lining up alongside Purity Kirui in Heat 1, Beatrice Chepkoech in Heat 2 and youngster Celliphine Chespol who has the second fastest time in history to win the 3,000m steeplechase of 8:58.57 in the last heat 3.
“I have been with them in training, they are in very good, the training went well, so God willing am looking at 1,2 or even a podium sweep. This is squad of talent young girls who are capable of delivering any result for Kenya” said Milcah Chemos who is currently in London with the team.
The 31-year-old currently works as the Athletics Representative at Athletics Kenya hence spending most of her time with the athletes. She has struck a special bond with steeplechase girls.
“I share with them some of the experiences I picked, I advise them, they ask about training, I talk to them about injuries and how to manage them since it is hard to go through the whole year without inflammation or muscle issues because of the landing,” said Chemos.
First Kenyan winner
Milcah Chemos was the first Kenyan female athlete to win the 3000m SC world title and she notes that it still feels good. She also has two silver World titles, a bronze from the Olympics and a Commonwealth gold medal.
“Although one feels nervous, doesn’t want to eat, doesn’t sleep well before the night before your race, being a world champion is such a great feeling, it is a medal that will stay in your family, you’re your kids, grandkids forever. That is the driving force of an athlete.
"Being a gold medalist means outshining all the athletes from across the world who qualified for the world championships. It means you braved the tough Kenyan trials and succeeded amongst so many talented Kenyans athletes,” noted Milcah.
Milcah says there is some good competition in the steeplechase team to perform well.
“The girls know that steeplechase is a Kenyan although as ladies we started winning much later at the world championships. For now they are inspired by Conseslus Kipruto’s victory,” said Milcah.
She added: - “The men have done very well, we thank Conseslus Kipruto for ensuring Kenya still dominate in her traditional race. I was wondering what would have happened if Kenya lost, how do you even explain such. We thank Ezekiel Kemboi ad also Brimin Kipruto for flying the Kenyan flag in steeplechase.”
This is the first time Kenya is sending four women in steeplechase, a clear sign that the ladies are embracing the water jump and barrier event with the hope to dominate like the men.
“Steeplechase is a Kenyan event, it is like the way we love Ugali, when you hear commentators says, “This is a Kenyan event,” we own it across. I followed in the footsteps of Lydia Chepkirui who guided and I have athletes like Virginia Nyambura learning from me, it is cycle, we pass on to the upcoming athletes.”
Milcah says steeplechase event is quite an easy event.
“When you are strong in the mind, you take it, clearing the hurdles could be a challenge, however the beauty with it is the moment you create a rhythm, tactically you have it. For instance, when you leave someone with 20m gap, it is hard to close up in steeplechase. ”
The Kenyan ladies led by defending champion Hyvin Kiyeng have a task to defend the title with expected strong challenge from Olympic champion and current world record holder Ruth Jebet.
“Teamwork is very crucial for us. I wish our girls all the best in the heats,” concluded Milcah.