Reaching the final and taking off the blocks in a showdown with her favourite athlete Allyson Felix at the World Championships in London will be the icing on the cake for Kenya’s fast-rising sprints and middle distance runner Maximilla Imali.
Imali is also already visualizing a sub-50 seconds time with a quality field beckoning unlike during the National Championships and the trials where she didn’t have someone to push her to the magical mark.
“It’s the best feeling ever to represent Kenya at the senior level. I want to reach the final and leave the rest to God,” said the 21-year-old athlete from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.
“Running with the top cream like Allyson should give me the challenge for improve my personal best.”
Imali, who represented Kenya for the first time in the 800 metres at the 2014 World Under-20 Championships in Eugene, USA, and made her first Diamond League appearance in the two-lap race in 2016 (Rome), declares that the best is yet to come from her.
“I plan to scale back to 800m after the Commonwealth Games in March next year,” said Imali, who broke the 400m national record with new times of 51.18 seconds. Imali, whose athletics prowess started showing in 2011 at Moiben Primary School while in class seven, attributes her recent surge in form to a refined training programme from Kenya Defence Forces coach Sammy Macharia, who has walked with her in athletics journey since 2013.
Imali finished second in 100m and 200m in class seven and eight, respectively, where she failed to reach the 800m final.
However, it’s upon joining form one at the athletics-rich Sing’ore Girls High School in Elgeyo Marakwet in 2013 that Macharia discovered Imali’s talent.
Imali competed in the heptathlon at the National Secondary Schools Games to dominate for three consecutive years in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
In the same years, Imali also won the 100m school titles. She made the 4x200m and 4x400m relays team for 2017 World Relays Championships in Bahamas but stayed away from athletics in 2016 to concentrate on her studies and only got to compete in Rome Diamond League where she finished sixth in the 800m.
“Macharia has inspired me so much since 2013 and for sure nothing will stop me from making the 800m team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” said Imali.
“She is the best placed sprinter to give Kenya a medal at the world championships,” said Team Kenya sprints coach Vincent Mumo.
“She has the power, strength and endurance and that is what matters in the one lap race. She is simply unique.”
Mumo predicted that Imali will easily break the 50-second barrier but “only if she stays focused at the blocks and over the distances.”
Tergat will be honoured with the prestigious award on August 1 in London.