Off my track: Dazzling Obiri warns peers ahead of new year

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World 5000m Champion and newly crowned Athletics Kenya female athlete of the year Helen Onsando Obiri has put her peers on notice ahead of the coming year. Obiri waltzed to Diamond League Trophy in 2017 and crowned her year by winning gold in London World Championships.

She exuded great confidence on Thursday night upon being bestowed the best female athlete gong, promising even greater dominance in the coming year.

“It took me a long time to break even and now that my confidence level is up , I only pray for good health and this winning streak shall persist,”said Obiri

Obiri was inexplicably dropped from the IAAF World Athlete of the Year nomination list alongside compatriot Elijah Manangoi but the duo bounced back with top gongs in Athletics Kenya awards gala.

She had been shortlisted together with 1500m world champion faith Chepngetich and world marathon silver medalist Edna Kiplagat but the 27 year-old Kenya defense Forces athlete scooped her second award of the night.

She had initially been named long distance athlete of the year in a category also contested by steeplechase duo of Celiphine Chepteek-Chespol and Hyvin Kiyeng.

“It takes a lot to win but once you hit the groove you can even do better, which is what I want to do. Everyone will be coming to beat me so I have to work harder and perform better just to maintain my level,” Obiri offered

The male athlete of the year Manangoi who defied great odds to scoop gold in 1500m world championships showered praises on his coach for elevating him to the global level.

“I know 1500m had and still has big names but my coach whom I love and respect so much devised a good plan which enabled me make my way up to where I am,” he said

“We did not win everything since the Diamond League proved very difficult at times but we are impressed with what we got and most importantly we are working towards a better 2018,” added  Manangoi.

Sprint protégé who dazzled at the U18 world championships 400m Mary Moraa is wary of pitfalls that befall female athletes and wants to focus on her running career. Moraa missed out on the young female of the year athlete but landed the AK president’s gong.

“The biggest danger to my athletics career besides lack of specialized training and facilities is distraction and peer pressure. I’m doing my best and a lot of well meaning people are helping me chart a path towards a successful career, ” said Moraa.

World Cross Country champion Irene Cheptai simply ran away with cross country athlete of the year ahead of Alice Aprot and Lilian Kasait while the male gong went to ‘the man for all surfaces’ Geoffrey Kamworor who overcame Japan-based Leonard Barsoton and youngster Richard Kimunyan.

Edna Kiplagat scooped road running athlete of the year award despite finishing second at the world championships. She upstaged serial record breaker Joyciline Chepkosgei and Mary Keitany while the male category was won by Geoffrey Kirui.

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