Kenya’s Mary Moraa has clocked the Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying standards in women’s 800m.
The 2017 World Under-18 400m silver medallist hit the standards after winning the women’s 800m in one minute and 59.25 at Sollentuna Grand Prix at Sollentunavallen Stadium in Sollentuna, Sweden Sunday.
She beat Noel Yarigo from Benin and Katherina Trost from Germany to second and third places in 2:00.57 and 2:00.67 respectively.
The time was not only Moraa’s personal best, but also the Area Record.
It was only only a matter of time before Moraa, who celebrates her 21st birthday on Tuesday, registered the qualifying time after she won the Tokyo Olympics pre-trials in a personal best of 2:01.12 on May 29 at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Moraa would then win the women’s 800m race at Paavo Nurmi Games improvong her personal best to 1:59.95 at Paavo Nurmi Stadium in Finland.
That saw her miss the Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard time of 1:59.50 by 0.45sec.
Then Moraa would take Sollentunavallen Stradium by storm, beating the Olympic qualifying time by 0.75secs.
Moraa is the fourth Kenya athlete to attain the Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard after 2013 World 800m champion Eunice Sum, Emily Cherotich and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich.
This is after Jackline Wambui, who also had the time, moved to long distance races.
Chepng’etich is yet to decide whether she will defend her title or take a shot at the 800m title at the Tokyo Summer Games due July 23 to August 8 in Japan.
Moraa’s coach Alex Sang was a delighted man.
“Initially, we had challenges of getting races after I moved her from 400m to the two-lap race,” said Sang. “We are so delighted that she has finally managed.”
Sang said that with a few athletes having cracked sub two minutes in 800m this year, Moraa has a chance of medaling at the Tokyo Games.
Sang said the journey to prepare Moraa for the 800m race started in 2019 during the Athletics Kenya Track and Field Meeting in Mumias.
“She started running 800m posting a couple of 2:06 times in 2019, but came the coronavirus which ruined things in 2020,” said Sang.
Kenya Police recruited her this year, but despite the Covid-19 lockdown, she managed to make the 4x400m mixed relay team for the World Relays held on May 1and 2 in Poland.
“We had to talk to her after the disappointing performance where she fell and dropped the baton as Kenya was disqualified. It was important for her to stay focused to realise our Olympic plan,” said Sang.
Sang said that they had challenges securing visa to some European countries that had races, but Moraa’s visa to Poland would save the day.
After cracking 2:01.12 at the Olympics pre-trials, Moraa would head to Europe. Her first 800m race was to be at the Iberoamericano Meeting on June 3 in Spain, but the race was scrapped to see her pace in 1,500m.
Her Olympic dream would become a reality after closing 1:59.95 in Finland before the final breakthrough of 1 59.25 in Sweden.
“She is a strong mind girl and a good listener, keen on details, ” said Sang.