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How Peres Jepchirchir Battled Extreme Poverty To Win Olympic Marathon


Peres Jepchirchir created a new version of inspiring to climb to the top in the world of athletics but she had to battle many obstacles along the way of becoming an Olympic champion in the long-distance races. 

Peres Jepchirchir gave Kenyans many reasons to cheer as she ripped through the scorching heat in Sapporo, Japan on Saturday, August 7 to take gold in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

Jepchirchir finished with a time of 2:27:20, 16 seconds ahead of her compatriot Brigid Kosgei, completing a 1-2 sweep in Kenya’s quest to dominate Africa standings in the Olympics despite a shaky start for the country in other sports. 

The 27-year-old created a new version of inspiring to climb to the top in the world of athletics but she had to battle many obstacles along the way of becoming an Olympic champion in the long-distance races. 

Jepchirchir narrated her harrowing tale of struggle and pain in her early years to KTN News that included her squaring up to and beating the odds to claim the coveted prize in world sport as well as get through extreme poverty. 

Tokyo Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir shared a photo in May of her childhood where she lived in a mud-walled house with a grass-thatched roof. /STANDARD DIGITAL 

The Olympic marathon champion narrated how she lost her mother at age two, with her father having three wives. Jepchirchir’s mother was his second wife. 

Jepchirchir is among a family of 24 children and added how she faced up to poverty in her childhood as at times she had to go without food. 

Following her dropping out of Kosirai Girls High School in Nandi County due to her lack of school fees, she switched her focus to the world of athletics where she tested her might. 

Jepchirchir narrated of how she had to walk to Sambut Primary School for five kilometers daily, and her uncle, David Barno, took her in as family. 

“We are 24 siblings and that is why I decided to work hard because we had very minimal resources at home. Life was not that easy. Small scale farming was the only source of income for our family,” recounted Jepchirchir. 

She went on to reveal that her dreams of becoming her nurse were crushed by the dread of lack of school fees, a feat which forced her to look at athletics as an alternative.

Back in May, Jepchirchir posted old photographs of her mud-walled house fitted with grass-thatched roofs as well as her new modern house as a means of inspiring athletes, young and upcoming, who are going through their struggling phase. 

Jepchirchir was notably a fast runner as she used to run alongside her older schoolmates. Her speed was too much for her uncle to keep up with in events he wanted to punish her for mistakes she had done. 

Come Saturday, Jepchirchir put her speed to good use in Sapporo as she tore through the latter stages of the race to claim gold in a race that began in the early morning hours to protect athletes from the sweltering summer heat.

“It feels good. I am excited because we won as Kenya. First and second. I thank my God so much. I’m happy for my family. I’m happy for my country, Kenya.” 

“I pushed on the pace (and when I opened the gap) it was like, ‘wow, I’m going to make it. I’m going to win’,” the two-time half marathon champion stated after the race and after embracing Kosgei, both waving the Kenyan flag higher. 

Peres Jepchirchir embraces her compatriot Brigid Kosgei after they claimed the top two spots in the Olympic marathon on August 7, 2021. /TWITTER



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Marvin Chege
About author: Digital journalist and managing director with a passion for writing captivating stories. Marvin is a young scribe, a social media, sports, gaming junkie and realist who specialises in viral news, multimedia and investigative storytelling.

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