Kenya’s Sheila Chelangat is set for her first competition at the Ostrava Golden Continental Tour on Tuesday after starting the season with a commanding victory at the national cross country championships in February before COVID-19 halted her dreams.
Chelangat, 22, announced her arrival to the track world when she won the bronze medal in the women’s 3,000m at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Cali, Colombia but has struggled with injuries and loss of form ever since.
The Kenyan was the third pacemaker on Sept. 4 at Brussels Diamond League in the One Hour race which saw Dutchwoman Sudan Hassan, the reigning world 1,500 and 10,000m champion, produced a thrilling kick over the final minute to see off Kenyan world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei and notch up an astonishing 18.930km over the 60 minutes.
“I have never paced, it was great experience to pace world record, I’m happy Hassan broke the world record but now I am going for my own event, 5,000m at Ostrava on Tuesday,” Chelangat who is coached by Gabriel Kiptanui in Kericho, some 270km west of the capital Nairobi, told Xinhua on Monday.
“I feel good that the running season is slowly coming back, as an athlete I was worried when the coronavirus pandemic stopped everything globally, I knew my ambitious season was done, I didn’t see myself running this year. I’m glad normalization is slowly returning,” she noted.
“At the start of the season I was in great shape physically and mentally, I was ready to dominate track but unfortunately COVID-19 slowed me down. With Ostrava meeting opportunity now here, I will give it my best,” said Chelangat who still harbors an Olympic Games ambitions next year.
Chelangat, who idolizes her fellow countrywoman Hellen Obiri, believes she has what it takes to become the next Obiri in running in the coming years.
Meanwhile, in the women’s 1,500 metres, reigning Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon will take on 2016 Rio Olympics runner-up Genzebe Dibaba in the Czech Republic.