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Peninah Akoth – A Kenyan star in the making

Peninah Akoth in action during the IAAF World U18 Championship pre-trials in Eldoret. The youngster is surely a star in the making going by her accomplishment and personality. Photo/ Mohammed Ali Shallie.

 Friday 7th July 2017

Peninah Akoth is one of the most promising youth athlete Kenya is nurturing at the moment. So far this season, the 17 year-old has been producing throws that are way far than her age and the tall and strongly built athlete stands head and shoulders above her local competitors in every sense.

For the last three years running, at the Kenya Schools Games, Akoth has given a world premiere of her prodigious talent capturing the national championship titles.

She first came to limelight while in class eight in the Primary Schools Games when she won her first national championship title in 2015 and she has never backed down, taking it to Secondary Schools Games, winning again national championship in form one last year 2016.

This year in Mombasa in the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) nationals, Akoth was once again unbeatable and in particular, she says, this performance stands out for her.

"Mombasa national secondary schools championship stands out for me. I remember I had laboured hard to win but I had a slow start in the preliminaries, coming third and in the final throw, winning it, I could not belief myself as that throw went way far and above my competitors to win me the championship and I will never forget that moment for sure! It was a trying moment, seeing my national title slipping over my hands, but that final throw..aah.. (laughing), was awesome," a gleeful Akoth recalls.

Immediately after the Mombasa championship, Akoth went straight to the U18 trials at Nyayo National Stadium and she was once again a competitor of her own in her own class as she won the trials with ease. Her triumph she says was as a result of hard work, build from the other early stunning performances in the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) games.

During the IAAF World U18 Championship trials, the Osingo Mixed Secondary School form two student from Migiro County created a paparazzi moment when she convincingly won the girls’ U18 Shot Put slot in Team Kenya ahead of her compatriots and she thanks God for the opportunity to represent the country for the first time. “It was my best moment to secure the slot and winning the IAAF World U18 Championship trials in Nairobi, I was ecstatic to have made it to Team Kenya,” delighted Peninah Akoth told People Sports.

By now her stocks and stakes had risen considerably and her name is on the lips of many Kenyan fans who are expecting something remarkable from her and she has promised not to disappoint. "I'm praying for a gold medal and I'm hopeful of winning the championship, so they should expect something good from me,"

Kenya is a hotbed of world beaters in athletics and though Akoth who hails from Kwa Ward village in Migori County, a village that has no links to athletics roots, admits that there is no secret formula to her strength and success other than a God given talent, hard work and self-belief.

"Yes, I come from unknown village in the world of athletics but my success is but a God given talent, hard work, self-belief and determination," she said.

Nothing good comes without having setbacks and things have not always been smooth sailing for the Akoth and she recalls a period where she endured a big setback in her fledgling career.

 “It was in 2014 in class seven, a year after I had put in my efforts in the game. I had prepared very well and I was sure going far in the primary school competition but I only made it to regionals and that really broke down my heart seeing the efforts I had put in training not yielding fruits, it was my worst moment, " she remembers.

 Thankfully, the following year, Peninah picked herself up and not only did she reach regionals but went all the way to be crowned national primary school champion and has never turned back ever since and the teenager who loves what she does and more importantly winning, is promising a lot more eye-popping performances during the championship at Kasarani Stadium.

From July 12-to-16th Kenya will be hosting the last edition of the IAAF World U18 Championship and with Kenyans pining hopes on her, she does not feel any pressure being the country's favourite in her category going into the competition and she is focussed on reproducing her current exploits while helping the country in successfully bidding for the overall world title.

"There's no pressure, only prayers and the rest will unfold in the field when the day comes," she concluded.

Although she still has a far way to go in her athletics career, one thing is certain, Peninah Akoth, based on her accomplishments and personality, is already one of those special athletes that the country should expect a lot from as she transforms into her senior career ranks.