World Under 20 medalists Chebet, Mutunga dream of Paris after Cali success

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – After medaling at the last week’s World Under 20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, 1500m silver medalist Brenda Chebet and her 400m counterpart, Damaris Mutunga wants to compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Chebet, who ran a personal best of 4:04.64, is looking up to double Olympic and world champion Faith Kipyegon as she sets about achieving what would be the greatest highlight of her young athletics career.

“She is the perfect example of what an athlete should be like…hardworking and always relentless. Those are the qualities I have admired about her and hope to reach the levels she has in her career. I want to be in Paris in 2024, competing in the women’s 1500m and possibly add a medal,” Chebet said.

Despite a new PB to top off the medal, the junior athlete admitted she could have done better had she improved on her kick in the final lap.

“I’ve discovered that I struggle a lot in the last 100m, and this proved detrimental today. Otherwise, I am confident of striking gold at the next competition if I brush up on this weakness. For today, I’ll take the silver,” Chebet said.

She added: “I only started running in the 1500m at the beginning of this year, but I already love the experience. In my last race before the World Under 20, I ran 4:05 and here (Cali), I ran 4:04. That is encouraging and at least, I can build on this achievement to do better in my next race.”

Brenda Chebet and Purity Chepkirui celebrate after the race. PHOTO/Erick Barasa

Likewise, Mutunga is hoping to improve on her spend on the last curve as she trains on her sights on the quadrennial games in the French capital.

“Particularly on the last curve…I need to improve on my speeds. The aim between now and Paris is to work on meeting the qualifying for the 400m and this is something that is attainable through hard work,” she said.

She spared Kenya’s blushes, after last year’s bronze medalist Sylvia Chelangat was eliminated in the semis, when she timed a national under 20 record of 51.71 to clinch silver in the women’s 400m.

 Even as the previously-unknown runner flew the national flag high, Mutunga’s feat did not come as a surprise to her.

“I was hoping for the best…expecting a medal. Overall, there were no major challenges. The weather was a bit of a problem in the semis but I thank God that it was conducive during the finals,” Mutunga, who had made it to the final as a non-automatic qualifier, said.

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