Kenya: Sprinter Moraa - Tokyo Qualifying Time a Birthday Gift

The 2019 African Games 400m champion Kenya's Mary Moraa has said that attaining Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying standards in 800m on Sunday in Sweden was an early birthday gift from God.

However, Moraa, who turns 21 Wednesday, said that the battle isn't over yet and that she is not losing focus after attaining the Summer Games qualifying times.

Moraa said she is ready for the Tokyo Olympic Games trials starting Thursday this week at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

"People are not sleeping because they know how important the Olympics are and they will come out with their guns blazing," said Moraa, who singled out the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships trials where Jackline Wambui (1:58.79, Eunice Sum (1:58.99) and Emily Cherotich (1:59.23) ran sub two minutes.

"You can never be sure until you cross that finishing line in top two. Kenyan trials are the toughest," said Moraa.

The 2017 World Under-18 400m silver medallist hit the standards won the women's 800m race in one minute and 59.25 at Sollentuna Grand Prix at Sollentunavallen Stadium, Sollentuna.

The time was not only Moraa's personal best, but also the Area Record (Sweden).

Moraa registered the qualifying time after she won the Tokyo Olympics pre-trials in a personal best 2:01.12 on May 29 at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Moraa would then win the women's 800m race at Paavo Nurmi Games improving her personal best to 1:59.95 at Paavo Nurmi Stadium in Turku, Finland.

That saw her miss the Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard time of 1:59.50 by 0.45sec.

Then Moraa would take Sollentunavallen Stadium by storm, beating the Olympic qualifying time by 0.75secs.

Moraa said she had planned well to follow the pacesetter into the final lap.

"It was one way for me. I heard someone shout that I was within the time with 200m to go. I then decided to put all the energy into running 28 seconds in the last 200 and leave everything to God. It worked," said Moraa.

Moraa is the fourth Kenya athlete to attain the Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard after the Sum, the 2013 World 800m champion, Cherotich and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng'etich.

This is after Wambui switched to long distance track races.

Chepng'etich is yet to decide whether she will defend her title or take a shot at the 800m title at the Tokyo Summer Games due July 23 to August 8.

Moraa's coach Alex Sang was a delighted man.

"Initially, we had challenges of getting races after Moraa switched from 400m to the two-lap race," said Sang. "But we are happy that she has finally managed."

Sang said that with a few athletes having cracked sub two minutes in 800m this year, Moraa has a chance of medaling at the Tokyo Games.

Sang said the journey to prepare Moraa for the 800m race started in 2019 during the Athletics Kenya Track and Field Meeting in Mumias.

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