Obiri targets world championship title defense

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-03 23:11:08|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NAIROBI, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Olympic silver medalist Hellen Obiri says she will shift her focus to defending her gold medal at the World Championships and the Diamond Trophy.

Speaking in Nairobi, Obiri, 29, says she still has two years on track before switching to the road races and marathon, despite running her first 10km road race in Madrid, Spain in January.

"It was the hardest race I have ever done. But it was the best one," said Obiri on Wednesday

The Kenyan cemented her place in athletics history on Saturday when she became the first woman ever to win senior world titles indoors, outdoors and at the World Cross Country Championships.

What made the achievement in Aarhus, Denmark even more special was that it was her World Cross Country Championships debut and Obiri had never intended to contest the event more than once.

Naturally, Obiri was pleased she was able to take victory on what was her first and probably only attempt. "I wanted to try extra hard," she said with a smile. "Now I don't need to do any more cross country."

Obiri made it clear that her main focus for 2019 will be to defend her 5,000m title at the World Athletics Championships Doha, Qatar in October.

To help her remain in top shape she will channel all her effort to dominate the Diamond League, which starts in May.

"The race to my title defense will start with the Diamond League. I have to defend the Diamond Trophy and earn the world No. 1 title. It is harder and it is all about mind games," she said.

Obiri is already a formidable competitor, but her experience from cross country will only make her a stronger athlete, mentally and physically.

Few women can match her range. She has an 800m best time of 2:00.54 and a 10km best of 29:59. It is the distances between those where she truly excels as she holds the African outdoor 3,000m record of 8:20.68, the Kenyan records for the mile (4:16.15) and 5,000m (14:18.37) and boasts a 1,500m personal best time of 3:57.05.

Before winning her world 5,000m title in 2017 in London, she had claimed Olympic silver over the distance in 2016 in Rio Games, earned world 1,500m bronze in 2013, won the 2012 world indoor 3,000m title and claimed 1,500m gold at the 2014 African Championships.

She also formed part of Kenya's triumphant 4x1,500m team at the 2014 IAAF World Relays, setting a world record of 16:33.58.

Last year she added to her medal collection with gold medals in the 5,000m at the African Championships and Commonwealth Games. She capped her season by winning the IAAF Diamond League title at the distance.