At 14 years of age, the first Kenyan female athlete won a medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1974!
“No one outside her own home in Trans Nzoia had ever heard of the shy, lanky schoolgirl until May 1972, when she entered an athletics competition at Kericho, the largest town in her part of Kenya. Her humble circumstances did not allow her to possess the minimum athletics equipment - running clothes - and shoes -that many of her school fellows were competing in. Instead, she ran barefoot and wearing a bright green petticoat. But that made no difference to her outstanding results!”
Ladies and gentlemen, Sabina Chebichi! The greatest of all time "petticoat princess" and barefoot runner.
During the competition, a young determined Chebichi, ran the women s 800 metres in 2 minutes 16.8 seconds, and the women’s 1500 metres in 4 minutes 40 seconds - times already within measurable distance of world records.
In the Nairobi newspapers, sports writers raved about the new athlete in town. Feisal Sherman, Secretary of Kenya Amateur Athletics Association, immediately sent her running kit and proper shoes. Indeed a star had been born.
Progressively, in 1973, Chebichi continued to win hearts and capture media attention while breaking records. That year, she recorded some of the fastest times in Africa for 800 meters and 1,500 meters. In Sardinia, on an Italian tour, she set a new record for the island of 2 minutes 12 seconds for the 800 meters event.
Phenomenally, she won the bronze medal in the 800 meters at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand. This made her the first female from Kenya to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.
And after having made headlines as Kenya’s new athletics star, Chebichi became pregnant, bringing her career to a halt. Now at 63 years of age, Sabina’s story of determination, endurance, and ambition, remains a pregnant one.