Golden Jepchirchir’s gracious journey to Olympics stardom
A prayerful Peres Jepchirchir knelt down, head to her knees after claiming the Olympic women’s marathon in Sapporo on Saturday.
When Kenya’s marathon team was selected in January last year, her name was not on that list.
Instead it was decorated Olympian Vivian Cheruiyot, world record holder Brigid Kosgei and world marathon Champion Ruth Chepngetich who had been selected.
However with Covid-19 ravaging and disrupting the sporting calendar, the Tokyo Games were delayed by a year.
“For a country that has extremely top athletes, it is a miracle that I was later drafted into the team. It is something I used to pray for. I have learnt never to question God, because he is all knowing,” said the newly crowned Olympic winner.
Jepchirchir, who grew up in Kericho in a family of farmers who grew tea and maize, says being kind is one virtue she remains true to.
Half marathon has so far been her strongest discipline, but in Tokyo, at the grandest stage, she exhibited the highest level of selflessness, care and teamwork as athletes were being tortured by dangerous heat in Sapporo.
During the race, she literally took care of fellow athletes by supplying them with water, special drinks, and ice-packs, with Kosgei who eventually won silver being the biggest beneficiary.
“It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. Actually the world would be a better place if we were all kind or considerate to each other. That is a virtue I want to pass to my daughter Natalia.”