What you need to know:
- Her athletics coach Perpetual Mbutu who has been with her since 2020 says she is a committed sprinter.
- “Nyambura is a good athlete. Since I started coaching her, she has shown that she is capable of doing better in athletics. She has been going through a lot of challenges but that aside, she is a hardworking young mother who has a bright future and needs support,” said Mbutu.
During the 2021 World Athletics Relay Championships in Silesia, Poland, Susan Nyambura was conspicuous in Kenya’s 4x200 metres relay team, being Team Kenya’s assistant captain for the global event.
But she is not your ordinary athlete. Apart from being a sprinter, she is also a certified referee who officiates matches in Kenya’s second-tier football league, the National Super League.
This year has a busy athletics calendar and Nyambura, like other athletes, is targeting a good season internationally.
On weekends, she is normally busy officiating matches but, she still creates time to train under the watchful eyes of her coach Perpetual Mbutu.
She started her athletics season by participating in Athletics Kenya weekend meetings, but her ultimate aim is to attain the qualification mark of 11.15 seconds for the 100m race and 22.80sec for 200m race so as to book a ticket to the 2022 World Athletics Championships.
She is also looking forward to competing in other athletics events such as the 2022 Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Mauritius from June 8 to 12, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom from August 2 to 7.
“Each and every athlete wants to compete in international races spread across the year and I’m no exception. I have been training hard and my target is to run and get qualification mark for the 2022 World Athletics Championships,” she says.
Her first international athletics trip was to the 2021 World Athletics Relay Championships in Silesia as a reserve athlete for Kenya’s 4x200m relay team of Doreen Waka, Maxmilla Imali, Monica Safania and Joan Cherono.
The team ran a national record time of 1min,38.26sec to finish fifth in a race won by Poland in 1:34.98.
Nyambura told Nation Sport that she was happy to have been named in the 2021 World Athletics Relay Championships and is proud of the national record the team registered.
“This was my first time to represent the country and I was so excited to have been named in the team. I’m happy because I managed to get the experience. I had a feel of what it takes to compete in a packed stadium, which was good. The championship opened up my mind, and I got a few tips on how to handle big assignments,” Nyambura said.
Nyambura says one has to be physically fit to succeed as a referee and as an athlete. She was first a referee, but how did she join athletics?
In 2017 while doing her speed work under the watch of her instructor Stephen Oduor, a sprints coach called George Macharia recognised her potential in athletics and approached her.
“I went to Kasarani Stadium and coach Macharia saw me training and after the session, he asked me to join athletics because I looked good in the sprints,” Nyambura said.
She ignored the suggestion but in 2018, Macharia again asked her to join athletics, and she decided to give it a try.
“I wondered why the coach had insisting on me joining athletics. Referee David Gikonyo told me that coach Macharia had asked him to talk to me about trying my hand in athletics. I’m now enjoying the sport,” she said.
Macharia took her to Kenya Prisons Service where she met coach Stephen Mwaniki, and they embarked on serious training session which saw her emerge the best civilian in 100m race, and second civilian in 200m race at the 2019 Kenya Prisons Athletics Championships.
It gave her hope. He star had started shinning, then Covid-19 pandemic struck globally in 2020, forcing her to stay at home due to the attendant health protocols.
Being unemployed, she struggled to provide for her twin children.
One of the highlights of her refereeing career is officiating a game between Administration Police Football Club and Shabana FC at Camp Toyoyo grounds in Nairobi which had been inconclusively played twice due to crowd trouble.
She says the match was full of tension but players from both teams shook hands at the final whistle, something that made her smile.
“I have had many incidents on the pitch but I remember one time I was called to officiate a match between Administration Police FC and Shabana FC and the game had a lot of tension. I just composed myself and went for the task and after 90 minutes, both teams were happy with the outcome,” added Nyambura.
She reveals that as a referee, she has to be physically fit to ensure she follows the ball wherever it goes so as to make the right calls.
“I train in the sprints to be fast, just like the players. That way, I make the correct calls while officiating a game. Now with athletics coming in, I know it will boost my career in football,” said Nyambura.
Born in Kangema in Murang’a County, Nyambura studied at Gatondonyi Primary School and later sat her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams at Iyego Secondary School in 2012. She then joined Nyathiru Queens, a local football club in Murang’a, to perfect her football skills.
While in secondary school, Nyambura played football and also represented her school in various athletics competitions, but she did not go far.
In 2013 after sitting her KCSE exams, she enrolled in a referee’s course in Thika, Kiambu County.
Upon completion, Football Kenya Federation officials asked her to choose to either officiate matches or become a player. She chose refereeing.
Her joy is to see players doing well. She prefers warning players rather than issuing yellow or red card.
When the athletics season takes a break, she goes back to refereeing which keeps her active and ready for the next season.
“I have goals to fulfil in life and I want to go for success despite the challenges I have gone through while growing up. It has been a journey and this might be the start of a bright future,” she says.
Her athletics coach Perpetual Mbutu who has been with her since 2020 says she is a committed sprinter.
“Nyambura is a good athlete. Since I started coaching her, she has shown that she is capable of doing better in athletics. She has been going through a lot of challenges but that aside, she is a hardworking young mother who has a bright future and needs support,” said Mbutu.