Nairobi — Hellen Obiri is a decorated athlete with world titles in Indoor, Relays, African Championships, World Championships, World Cross Country and the Commonwealth Games. The only title missing from her cabinet is the Olympic title.
On Friday, the Kenya Defense Forces athlete will start her campaign for the elusive Olympic Gold when she starts off the heats as the Athletics calendar opens up at the Tokyo Stadium.
She lines up in heat two of the qualification round with Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay among the notable names competing alongside her.
But for Obiri, the target is clear; hunt for the gold that escaped her grasp in Rio five years ago.
"This is the only medal that is missing in my career and I want to work hard to get it. If I win gold in Tokyo, then it will mean a lot to me. After that I can leave the track for the young upcoming athletes then I move to road races," said Obiri.
She will be doubling in the 10,000m and the 5,000m but has admitted that she is salivating more at the 12-and-a-half lap title in Tokyo.
She says she has endured a difficult season having struggled to attain fitness after picking injuries along the way.
"It has been a very difficult season and I was almost giving up on getting a place for the Olympics. But I am really delighted that I have shown some good levels of fitness. I am not worried however despite losing a few races. For me I think I made a big improvement at the trials and I have worked to remain in top shape," Obiri added.
Apart from the challenges of batting with injury, there has also been the COVID-19 challenge that has prevented most athletes from racing across the season but the eternal optimist that she is, Obiri believes this will be a blessing in disguise.
"I believe that many of us will be in shape because we have not exhausted our bodies. Yes it hasn't been a good season but I know we will be fresh and strong going to the Olympic Games," she stated.
For company in the race, Obiri who won silver behind Vivian Cheruiyot in Rio 2016 will have compatriots Agnes Tirop, a double World Bronze medalist in 10,000m and Lilian Kasait.
The team of three will have to endure tough competition from the Ethiopian legion which will be led by Senberi tefere.
The team will also have the threat of Sifan Hassan to deal with, with the Dutch lady coming into the Olympics in sizzling form.
"We have seen the Ethiopians and how they have raced this season but we have no pressure. In 2016 and 2017 everyone was talking about Ayana (Almaz) but we went on to beat her. I believe nothing is impossible for us," she added.