Rising track star Moraa aims to emulate mentor Obiri as she seeks to ink her name in country’s athletics folkore
National 400m champion Mary Moraa has set her sights on filling the huge void left by double world 5,000m champion and Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri who has signed off from the track to launch a career in road running.
Moraa, the 2017 world under-18 silver medallist in 400m, says she has been talking to Obiri with the world champion constantly motivating her to emulate her.
Having successfully debuted at the Olympic Games in Tokyo where she reached the semis in 800m, Moraa says her future is bright.
“Most recently at the Brussels Diamond League where I was also making a debut I had a lengthy sit down with Obiri where we talked about a range of things key among them why she feels I need to fly the Gusii region high on the track now that she is exiting the track stage,” disclosed Moraa.
“For an athlete I look up to and admire for the great things she has done for Kenya, it really feels amazing knowing she holds me in high esteem and even believes in my potential,” she continued.
After a brilliant career on the track, indoor and cross country, Obiri feels time is right to transition to road races.
Obiri, 31, said she would focus on the half marathon and, eventually, the marathon after settling for fourth in the 10,000m at the Tokyo Games last month.
“I will take huge satisfaction if I can achieve just a fraction of what Obiri has managed to get on the track.
I am even happier knowing she will be there whenever I need advice on how to approach my races,” added Moraa.
Meanwhile, Moraa will compete at the Absa Kip Keino Classic at the Kasarani Stadium on Saturday where she is eyeing the 800m title.
She says she is yearning to stop world 800m champion Halima Nakaayi of Uganda.
“I am ready to face top guns because that is what my year has been about,” said Moraa, who finished second in the 400m at last year’s Kip Keino Classic.
The African Games 400m silver medallist made her debut in the two-lap race at the Tokyo Olympic Games where she failed to go past the semi-finals.
“I am slowly learning the ropes and soon Kenya will be having a replacement for the likes of Janeth Jepkosgei, Pamela Jelimo and Eunice Sum,” explained Moraa who has a personal best of 1:59.25.
Besides Naakayi, Moraa will also face American Chanelle Price, the 2014 World Indoor 800m champion, who has personal best of 1:58.73, the 2019 African American Games 800m bronze medallist Déborah Rodríguez from Uruguay and Ethiopian 400m champion Worknesh Mesele.