Kenya: Sibling Love As Paralympian Chelangat Advances Into 1500m-T11 Final in Tokyo

29 August 2021

Tokyo, Japan — As the phrase goes "blood is thicker than water", that is what was witnessed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games where silver medalist Nancy Chelangat has her elder brother Geoffrey Kiplangat to thank for.

Kiplangat is the guide for Chelangat and he did well to see her younger sister advance into Monday's 1500m-T11 women Final after qualifying as one of the two fastest losers after finishing fourth in a season best time of 4:51.68.

In the Paralympics, it's a requirement for athletes competing in different categories that are visually impaired to have a guide.

Though she started off well, Chelangat who is a silver medalist from Rio 2016 Games in the same event, said the punishing high humidity conditions at the Olympic Stadium took a tall on her with 200m to go.

"I started very well; I finished the first two laps well but now heading for the final lap the humidity affected me but I am thankful that I was able to run good time to qualify as one of the fastest losers. I am now going to work on my finishing power to fight for a medal in the final," the 26-year-old athlete, who hails from Kericho said.

The other Kenyan in the event, Mary Waithera missed the qualification to the final with a whisker after finishing third in the opening Heat and though she clocked her Personal Best time of 4:52.54, she could not make it through with the small q because the race was slower than the second.

"I was hoping to make it in the final as one of the fastest losers but then that did not happen. I was well prepared for today's race and the weather conditions were super, the humidity was lower compared to the rest of the days," Waithera, the 37-year-old Nakuru based athlete said after the race.

She encouraged all the athletes living with a disability to challenge themselves in sport and make a living.

"My message to people back at home is that in everything that one does there should be a determination and forget about the challenges, the determination goes beyond disabilities for those who are Living with Disabilities like me," Waithera, who draws her athletics inspiration from the legendary Catherine Ndereba told Capital Sport.

"We train together with Mary. We have done speed work together and it would have been a plus if we both qualified for final," she added.

-The lovely brotherly guide-

Unlike all other competitors in Tokyo, Chelangat had the comfort of her own blood, and she said that it gives her an advantage since she is relaxed and is under the wings of someone who knows her better.

"I am happy that my brother is my guide because we get along very well and that motivates me to run better, he speaks to me very well and we are used to each other," Chelangat, who was named the 2016 SOYA Awards Sportswoman Living With A Disability, explained

Her brother Kiplangat explained how she encouraged her sister into running.

"I used to be a champion during my days in Secondary School, but I sacrificed that career to help my younger sister and ensure she succeeds because she is talented. I have guided other athletes before like Erick Sang who is going to compete here in the men's category, then I taught my sister and to me that is very special.

"Sometimes the race is had, especially like today, we prepared well, but util the last lap I saw she is not pushing but I encouraged her to persevere so that she gets into the final, we spoke with our parents back at home yesterday and they encouraged us."

However, Kiplangat revealed that there is a difference when guiding male athletes who need a lot of training. Like my sister she was born with the condition, so I had to step in and help, being a guide, it needs you to be fit and believe in yourself, I have experienced it with my sister since we get along easily," he said.

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