Lilian Odira: Bouncing back from maternity to making first Olympic team

Lilian Odira: Bouncing back from maternity to making first Olympic team

Abigael Wafula 06:35 - 17.06.2024

National champion Lilian Odira has narrated her journey, from her maternity leave to making her first Olympic team.

Little-known Lilian Odira has made a comeback this season and is now the new kid on the block in the women’s 800m.

Odira stunned the athletics world when she won the Olympic trials, clocking 1:59.27 to cross the finish line ahead of Mary Moraa and Sarah Moraa who finished second and third in respective times of 1:59.35 and 1:59.39.

With her time, the national champion will make her debut at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after toiling and moiling in a journey that was full of challenges. In the Olympic team, she will be joined by Moraa, the reigning world champion, with Sarah also in the mix but the youngster has to attain the time before the deadline which is June 30.

The Jacinta Muraguri-coached athlete noted that coming back from her maternity leave to posting good times and running well has not been a walk in the park. She has been forced to make sacrifices and is glad that it has all paid off well with her Olympic qualification.

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“It has been a good race and I thank God for everything and I also thank my coaches and teammates. I was looking for the qualifying time for the Olympics and I’ve achieved it and I’m grateful. It is a good feeling because this has been my year coming back from maternity leave but I thank God that there is progress and I’m aiming higher.

“It was not a smooth journey because you have to sacrifice a lot and there are several challenges including availability of the track and so on but you have to stay focused. My goal was to make it to the Olympics and it is a great achievement. Making the cut to the Olympics is a dream come true for me,” she said.

Meanwhile, Odira launched her athletics career in 2016 but only competed once that year before coming back in 2018 where she also competed once. She then bounced back in 2019, competing in two races before starting off on a clean slate in 2023.

This season has been her best so far, where she managed to win the national title during the National Championships at the Ulinzi Sports Complex. She also made her first national team and will be heading to the Africa Senior Athletics Championships before coming back to gear up for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.