Miramas — Julius Yego made sporting history as Kenya’s first ever field medalist at World Championships in Beijing in 2015.
Dubbed the “YouTube” athlete by virtue of having learnt his throwing skills through the internet, Yego stunned the javelin world by achieving a world lead of 92.72 at the prestigious championships.
But long before Yego’s trailblazing field antics, was a Kenya Prisons officer Elizabeth Olaba, Kenya’s foremost thrower in the field events, who set a record of 15.38m in the shot-put during the 1987 All Africa Games held in Nairobi.
Laventa Amutavi, the better half of Africa’s fastest man, Ferdinand Omanyala wants to follow suit!
She has been working round the clock to ensure she competes at the highest level in field events. And after months of hard toil, Laventa has set her sights on becoming the first Kenyan lady world championships medalist in order to emulate trailblazers Yego and Olaba.
Laventa is naturally a sprinter with energetic and enthusiastic enjoyment of field events having already tacked on long jump into her busy training schedule which she has thoroughly enjoyed.
Spotted recently in Miramas, Team Kenya’s official pre-Olympic training centre, Laventa’s manifest charm and ability was inspiring.
“I came back to Miramas because it has a special place in my heart. The first time I came here was last year in February and experiencing the facilities and the opportunities, I felt I needed to come back,” Laventa said of her two weeks high performance stint.
“Miramas is very hot during this time but when I came last time it was during winter. Here we have very nice facilities that we don’t have back home so, the accessibility is just amazing. Everyone is willing to help,” she said.
Asked what could make her return to Miramas, Laventa continued: “Seeing athletes who have been participating in the indoor and outdoor season, you just feel good to train with them.”
Laventa is a sprinter but- deep down- she has a passion for long jump. “I have heard a lot of people tell me that I can’t do both but I believe I am different. The Olympic record holder; I just met her at Budapest Worlds in Hungary, Joyner-Kersee has long jump Olympic record of 7.40m. She was a hept-athele and that’s why she stills holds the record.”
Laventa goes on to explain that being a sprinter has an added advantage in long jump as she believes she has requisite speed and power to do so and the only thing she’s pursuing in long jump is the technique to win medals.
“I want to be like Tianna Bartoletta who is a track and field athlete and specializes in the long jump and short sprinting events. She is a two-time Olympian with three gold medals. Tiana is retired and was a very good long jumper and the best starter that the US had ever had.”
In Europe, Laventa is just taking her first baby steps towards the future and she’s overly excited. “it’s a learning experience to know how people prepare because the off-season training is what carries you through the season, just learning what they do here then going back to Kenya to apply the techniques. What we lack is just the technical facet of field events and how to execute it.”
“What I did today is something I would ignore if you look at it but after going through the exercise, I feel like it’s intense but no not that much. Laventa expounded: “I was here when the under 20 team came and there was a lady by the name Zeddy who went back home and upon closing the season she jumped a 6m which goes to show Kenya has long jumpers.”
In the national championship we had three ladies who jumped 6 meters it’s just something we need to tap into and when we do our training.”
-Field Inspiration and gusto–
For Laventa, she draws her inspiration from his hubby Omanyala and the fact that she has witnessed first-hand the struggles he has been to as he pushes the limits to get to where he is.
She explained: “I am motivated by him. That kind of a person who having reached this stage of life in his career he has encouraged me to explore and grow my career. Being here in Miramas is because of him, I mean, he’s paid for my expenses to ensure that I get the best exposure; and being around people who have made it changes your mindset.”
Laventa has taken time to commiserate with his husband for failing to medal at the Budapest extravaganza which was disappointing on his part knowing how much he worked hard.
“Everything was in check, for him not to make it on the final day when it mattered was a disappointment. But all I can say is that God gives you a second chance.”
“The semis were tough but he managed to get to the final which was miracle of sorts and from that experience I know there are many lessons learnt and I just want him to continue pushing the limits because he is not done yet, he’s just getting started.”
Whenever Laventa and her hubby go to France they always feel like it’s a land of opportunities and the fact that Kenya and Miramas have partnered to make it a home for Kenya’s pre-Olympic camp is something special her.
he believes Omanyala’s presence in the little-known French city has just opened him up to work on his first 60ms which have impacted a lot on his running.
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Miramas, France-