Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Stella Chesang from Uganda said she would be under pressure to deliver a gold medal when she lines up at the 21st CAA Africa Championships in Asaba, Nigeria from 1-5 August, 2018.
Stella Chesang surprised many when she denied Kenyan runners gold in Gold Coast, Australia in April. But that will not count as she eyes her first gold at the continental level as a senior athlete.
In 2015, Chesang clinched silver in the 5,000m at the Africa Junior Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which was an improvement from the 11th position she had at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.
“I have started well the season and my focus is winning gold at the Africa Championships. But that is not a done case as we have the national trials where I must fight it out for a slot in the Uganda team,” said Chesang, who now trains in Kenya near Eldoret.
The 21-year-old has been running at the top level for the last eight years. She made her Uganda debut in the junior women’s race at the 2011 World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria in Spain.
She finished 39th – more than two minutes behind race winner Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, the world and Olympic 1,500m champion – but it proved a pivotal race in her career development.
“It was my first international event and my first time to board a plane,” she recalls. “I was really excited to compete against the other runners and to finish 39th there was when I first realized I had a talent (for running). I saw people were running seriously and that I needed to train hard too.”
Returning to Uganda motivated, she stepped up her training and made significant progress. In 2013 she returned to the World Cross Country Championships and this time finished in 14th.
At the 2014 World Under-20 Championships in Eugene, she secured fourth place in the 5,000m, clcocking a personal best time of 15:35.85.
For Stella, there was no hint of frustration but rather a gradual rise to the top. Her coronation was in Gold Coast where she denied Kenya the gold in the 10,000m.
“I was impressed because the whole crowd in the stadium started shouting ‘Uganda, Uganda’. I was very happy,” she said.
She hopes her running success will also inspire more Ugandan women to take up the sport.