She has had her fair share of disappointments while competing in the world’s biggest sporting shows.

It all started with a red card at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, which marked the beginning of numerous woes for Maureen Chelagat. Chelagat then fell at the 2012 London Olympic Games, lost it all in round one at the 2013 Moscow World Championships and last year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games too. That has been Chelagat’s roller coaster ride in the past five years. But the Prisons 400m hurdles runner is not done just yet. Although she has not attained qualifying time to the 15th IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, from August 22 to 30, she is not worried. Chelagat has posted 52.2 in her 400m specialty, which is slightly below the IAAF’s 52.0 qualifying time. “I am yet to attain the qualifying mark, but I am grateful that I have already hit the required time for the All Africa Games. I am certain to make it during the national trials,” said Chelagat. She will take on her bosom friend and national champion Joyce Zakari of Kenya Police, who has qualified for the two events, with a time of 51.0 in the one-lap race.

“I will put behind the challenges I underwent in previous championships (Olympics, world championships and the Commonwealth Games). I really want to give it my best,” said Chelagat. After she ditched the hurdles early in 2013, Chelagat has been in an imperious form in the 400m, while competing in local competitions.

Not bad for the girl from Cheptulon village in Marakwet, whose homestead is only kilometres from two-time Olympic and world 3,000m steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi’s abode. She proved her mettle during Kenya Prisons sprints battle, where she won both 400m and 400m hurdles. Although she finished second to Zakari in the national championships at Kasarani Stadium last weekend, Chelagat is keen to break away from past misfortunes. “I think this is my year. I will give my best,” Chelagat, an alumna of athletics-rich Sing’ore Girls High School in Keiyo North, said.

She studied alongside double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, two-time world cross-country junior champion Viola Kibiwot and world 800m bronze medalist, Janet Jepkosgei.

“My former schoolmates inspired me a lot. The likes of Vivian Cheruiyot, Viola Kibiwott and Janet Jepkosgei told me to take athletics seriously,” she said. Chelagat only took athletics keenly after high school. Her favourite sports was volleyball. Former multiple marathon star Catherine Ndereba and Ruth Waithera, who serve together at the Kenya Prisons, are her role models. Across the globe, Chelagat draws inspiration from sprinters Sanya Richards and Carmelita Jeter. She is hoping to meet again with Richards, after they last met at the 2012 London Olympics. “I love Richards and Jeter. They are fantastic on the track. I met Richards in London and talked with her. She is very humble and accommodating person,” she said.

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