Anyango’s time to shine

Edwin  - CEO March 20, 2024
Updated 2024/03/20 at 8:03 PM
7 Min Read
Emmaculate Anyango in Iten (© Justin Lagat)/World Athletics
Emmaculate Anyango in Iten (© Justin Lagat)/World Athletics

As she targets Belgrade and Paris


Emmaculate Anyango wins the Sirikwa Classic Cross Country (© Michelle Katami)/World Athletics



For Emmaculate Anyango, nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. This is a slogan she will march forward within a year that holds so many opportunities and possibilities, from the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Belgrade 24 to the Olympic Games in Paris, Justin Lagat reports for World Athletics.


While the rest of the world watched and cheered as her Kenyan compatriot Hellen Obiri became a multiple world champion, a two-time Olympic silver medallist, and a two-time world major marathon winner, Anyango observed something in her that would change her running career.


“I always like watching Hellen Obiri run. She tends to give it her all in her races,” says Anyango. “In her cross country races, she often runs one way at the front from start to finish. She always has a great desire to win and believes in herself.


“In the past, I always told myself that when I became a good runner, I wanted to be like Hellen. When you get a chance to shine, use it to shine. You need to use your time to make history so you do not regret it later.”


When it comes to giving it their all, the same characteristics apply to Anyango, who went for a 30km long run the week after running faster than the world 10km record in Valencia on 14 January. Remarkably, she didn’t win the 10km race, as her compatriot Agnes Ngetich won in a world record of 28:46 ahead of Anyango’s 28:57.


After such a great run, it would have been no surprise if Anyango had taken a few days of rest, but the 23-year-old was feeling great, and what would have been an easy run ended up being a 30km effort.


“I think the world record run in Valencia helped take my form to its peak,” she explains. “After that race, I felt I was getting into another fitness level.”


Her solo run at the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold event in Eldoret some three weeks later may have proved her right.


“I believe that when I recover a bit too much, it will take a long time for my body to recover,” Anyango says.


Early days


Anyango did not have support from her family when she decided to run because nobody believed she had the talent. But now her family realizes she can make it, which has made her want to achieve even more.


When she moved to Iten, she found a great community of runners who trained alongside her, offering her much-needed teamwork in long runs and other workouts. However, she still often creates extra time to train before joining the group later in the day.


“At times, I go for my training run alone at 3 am, and then I join the rest of the group for the 9 am training,” says Anyango.


Having ideal conditions to train well, Anyango swore she would always do her best to excel and be a breadwinner for her family back in Litein, Kericho.


The athlete has reached the point in her life where a mother and a daughter exchange their roles. Her single mother and her siblings now depend on her, and she is happy about the opportunity to give back.


“I am now like a father and a mother to my entire family in Litein, Kericho. That includes my mother and five siblings,” says Anyango, who has a brother and four sisters. “I am a father to all of them, and I am happy to be like that to them. They motivate me to work hard in my training.”


Medals in mind


Like every other top athlete this year, Anyango is eyeing the Paris Olympics. Any medal there would be great for her, but her aim is gold.


But first, she has already booked her ticket to the World Cross Country Championships, which will be held in Belgrade on 30 March. Anyango finished second to Ngetich at the Kenyan cross-country trials on 2 March.


“Regarding my plans this year, I hope to get a medal at the World Cross Country Championships and another at the Paris Olympics,” Anyango says.


“My year so far has started very well.”


She has been taking lessons from her races, which explains why she decided to dominate the World Cross Country Tour Gold race in Eldoret, from gun to tape.


“Agnes (Ngetich) has been my favorite competitor. I wish she were running with me at the Sirikwa Classic Cross Country. She has been making me push my limits while running,” says Anyango.


“Sometimes, you may decide to relax in a group waiting to unleash a finishing kick, but then you are beaten by competitors with a better finishing speed. I now go to my races with my plan. So, at the Sirikwa Classic, I went with my race plan.”


The 2019 African U20 3000m silver medallist has performed best in distances ranging from 1500m to 10,000m on the track. However, her primary focus on the Paris Olympics will be the longer discipline.


“My mind is on the 10,000m, although I believe I can also do well in the 5000m event,” she says.


“I pray only for good health, and I believe I can achieve anything I set my mind to this year.”


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