EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Sally Kipyego celebrated a return to prominence at the USATF Women’s 10K Championships in New York City on June 8.
The 33-year-old Kipyego was competing in her first national championship as a U.S. citizen, and nearly two years after the birth of her daughter, Emma. She placed third overall in a stacked field of 27 elite distance runners with a time of 32 minutes, 35 seconds.
“I’m so relieved that I had a good race,” said Kipyego, the 10,000 meter silver medalist at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics. “I’m very close to my old self.”
Her performance marked a significant step forward in her journey back to fitness. She stayed with the leaders throughout the race until the final 800m, crossing the finish line in Central Park eight seconds behind the champion, Sara Hall, and three seconds behind runner-up Stephanie Bruce. All three podium finishers are moms.
Kipyego is targeting a fall marathon as she prepares for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon on Feb. 29, 2020, in Atlanta. She is currently training in Eugene under the watchful eye of her coach for the past decade, OTC Elite’s Mark Rowland.
“It’s wonderful to have Sally back in town,” Rowland said. “The fire still burns strong which is why she required a careful eye on some areas that have slipped since the birth of Emma. I’m excited by her 10K after the preparation she had. It provides great momentum over the next few weeks as we get some quality workouts in and prepare for her next marathon.”
OTC Elite athletes were scattered across the globe this past week.
Botswana’s Nijel Amos turned in another stellar 800m performance at the Diamond League meeting in Rome on June 6. Amos was nipped at the tape for a second-place finish with a season-best time of 1:43.65, a mere .02 out of first place.
Amos returns to the Diamond League stage on Sunday (June 16) in Rabat, Morocco.
“The most important thing at this stage is looking at how our training is being transferred into race situations,” Rowland said. “There is plenty of time to make adjustments as we continue to put the work in and gain momentum for the rest of the season.”
Harun Abda turned in a season best of 1:46.80 in the 800m to place fourth at the International Pfingstsportfest in Rehlingen, Germany on June 9. He was followed across the finish line in fifth (1:46.86) by OTC Elite teammate Andrew Osagie in his outdoor season debut.
In addition, two-time Olympian Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi competed in the 2,000m at the Meeting in Montreuil in France on June 11. In her first race at a distance above 800m, she placed fifth with a time of 5 minutes, 43.43 seconds.
Closer to home, a trio of first-year OTC Elite pros competed at the Portland Track Festival at Lewis & Clark College on June 9 – Sabrina Southerland and Neil Gourley in the 800m, and Vince Ciattei in the 1,500m.
Southerland, the former Oregon NCAA Indoor 800m champion, clocked a season best of 2:03.80 to place sixth overall. It was only her third outdoor race of the year as she has been focused on her studies. Southerland will earn her master’s degree in Non-Profit Management with a concentration in Strategic Communications from the University of Oregon on June 17.
“A spirited race from Sabrina based on what’s she’s been able to do so far this season,” Rowland said. “I don’t feel we truly appreciated the demands of taking on a master’s degree in her first season as a professional … we’ll reboot her training after graduation.”
Gourley, the reigning British Indoor 1,500m champion, placed fourth in the 800m in Portland with a time of 1:47.11, only .07 off his lifetime best. Ciattei, who has been battling injury since joining OTC Elite this past fall, made his season debut with a fourth-place finish (3:44.60) in his heat of the 1,500m.
“Small steps, but productive ones,” Rowland said of the two former Virginia Tech standouts.