Sylvia Chelang’at: I had a point to prove in World U20s
Sylvia Chelang’at ventured into new territory to deliver a bronze medal for Kenya in the women’s 400m on the penultimate day of the World Under-20 Championships.
Coming into the home stretch, she needed to dig deep and pushed herself despite falling off at the finish line to secure a medal.
Chelang’at who was recently signed by Italian athletics coach Claudio Berardelli said not even the management or her mentor, former World champion Janeth Jepkosgei, rated her chances of getting to the finals.
“I was given a contract before the championship even though they did not rate my chances in the championships. They thought I could achieve a new personal best, nothing more,” said Chelengat.
Her parents, however, told her to prove everyone wrong by making it to the podium.
“I want to do well in my athletics career as nothing motivates me more than giving my parents a better life.
We are not a well-to-do family, but now I thank God that I will be able to give my parents the kind of life they so much wanted to give us but were unable to,” said Chelengat.
The Form Four student at Lelu Secondary School in Kipkelion sub-county, Kericho, said getting a medal will account for her time out of school to prepare for the championships.
“It bothered me that I might go back to school without a medal, that is what pushed me to do better. As a candidate, I have missed a lot in school, so I have some consolation as I go back,” said an elated Chelang’at.
Chelangat came third in the one-lap race in 52.23 after trailing Imaobong Uko of Nigeria who bagged gold in 51.55 as Kornelia Lesiewicz took silver in 51.97 with the trio notching personal best in the race.
“I really feel happy to win this bronze for Kenya,” Chelangat said.
After her exploits, Chelang’at wants to immediately shift and start training for her favourite race 800m.
She added; “When I was starting, I was very cautious of two things. Frst, I was very careful not to step out of my line, and secondly, I was keen on avoiding a false start.
I had told myself that even if I don’t get a medal, I just want to set my personal best. There was no point in fighting to be number one and then I either false start or infringe on my lane,” she disclosed.
She further explained: “I knew lane five and six were strong because when I looked at the start list, I saw their times were very good.
I just told myself that I would chase them down. In the final 150m, I really felt it hurt but I told myself I was just starting the race. That helped me to push and get a bronze.”
The Kenyan put in a brilliant display despite starting off slow the blocks and her performance at the homestretch elevated her to medal position.
Her reaction off the blocks was the slowest of the seven starters, but she steadied herself going past the first bend before streaming herself better.