Norah Jeruto to pocket Sh30m for winning steeplechase gold

Norah Jeruto

Gold medallist Norah Jeruto of Team Kazakhstan poses following the women's 3000m Steeplechase Final on day six of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 20, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.

Photo credit: Hannah Peters | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Kenyan turned Israeli Chemtai Salpeter won bronze in women’s marathon on Monday
  • Ex-Kenyan breaks championship record, is rewarded by her adopted Kazakhstan

The newly crowned women’s 3,000m steeplechase world champion Kenyan-born Kazak Norah Jeruto has been the talk of town after she bagged a first gold for her adopted country.

Jeruto clocked a blistering 8:53.02 at the Hawyad Field stadium in Eugene Oregon on the early hours of Thursday (Kenyan time), smashing the previous championship record by more than four seconds.

Ethiopia’s Werkuha Getachew took silver in a national record 8:54.61 and her compatriot Mekides Abebe grabbed bronze in a personal best 8:56.08.

Jeruto’s win has earned her 250,000 Euros (Sh30.2 million) courtesy of the Kazakhstan government through their award scheme for excelling athletes.

Compared to Kenya where a gold medallist is rewarded with Sh1m, Jeruto will presumably be happy with her shift of citizenship as she smiles all the way to the bank.

Her international debut was at the 2011 African Cross Country Championships, where she placed sixth in the junior race to complete a Kenyan sweep in Cape Town, South Africa.

That same year she ran the third fastest time in 2,000 metres steeplechase at the World Youth Championships in Villeneuve-d’Ascq in France timing 6:16.41 minutes to win gold.

Later that year, she claimed the steeplechase title at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games at Douglas, Isle of Man as well as a bronze in the 3,000m race. She missed out on the Kenyan selection for the 2012 World Junior Championships in Athletics and never got another sniff at selection.

She then become a Kazak citizen in 2017. The new queen of steeplechase is not alone in shifting their allegiance from Kenya.

Her sister Daisy Jepkemei, who finished a distant sixth in the third heat in the same event in Eugene, did not qualify for the finals, but she was at the terraces to cheer her sibling and fellow Kazak.

Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui competed in the 10,000m representing Kazakhstan. She finished seventh.

She will also be competing in the 5,000m final on Sunday.

The three are coached by Kenneth Rotich mainly at Iten.

“It has been a journey of hard work and Jeruto winning a gold medal the first one in history for Kazakhstan is something I’m proud of,” he said.

Kenyan-born Bahraini Winfred Yavi Mutile finished fourth in the women's steeplechase final after stumbling at the last water jump.

Mutile switched her allegiance in 2016 and has represented Bahrain in several world events.

In the marathon race, Kenyan-born Israeli Lorna Chemtai Salpeter, bagged bronze for her country after a brave run, behind Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebresalse and Kenya’s Judith Korir who bagged gold and silver medals respectively.

But why are some Kenyan athletes looking for greener pastures? Belal Mansoor Ali, formerly John Kipkorir Yego who changed his citizenship to Bahrain reckons that athletes who make the switch find they are treated better in their adopted lands.

Several other Kenya-born athletes have been represented their adopted countries in Eugene including Americans Jonah Koech (800m), Elkanah Kibet (marathon), Hillary Bor and Benard Keter (3,000m steeplechase), and Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli (10,000m).