International Women's Day: The athlete who defied all odds to become a global champion

Catherine Ndereba the great

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At Pulse Live Kenya we celebrate and salute women who have made an impact in people’s lives.

In Part three of our tribute to great ladies ahead of the International Women’s Day, we honor and appreciate Catherine Ndereba for making Kenya proud all through her athletics career and for giving back to the society in a special way.

Catherine Ndereba was born on 31st July 1972 in Gatuanganga, Nyeri County. All through the career in athletics, she was a force to reckon with.

Awards

She is a former Kenyan marathoner who won two silver medals in 2004 and 20008.

Catherine Ndereba is also a four-time winner of the Boston Marathon. Ndereba broke the women’s marathon world record in 2001, running 2:18:47 at the Chicago Marathon.

She won individual bronze and team gold at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Italy

Ran the world's fastest times for the year at 5 kilometers (15:09), 12 kilometers (38:37), 15 kilometers (48:52), and 10 miles (53:07)

Made her marathon debut at the Boston Marathon, finishing sixth in 2:28:27 hours

Boston Marathon winner

Chicago Marathon winner

World Championships gold medalist in the marathon IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Italy

Summer Olympic Games, Beijing silver medalist in the marathon

Life and Background

The world champion is popularly identified as Crazy Catherine in her rural home for having defied odds and criticisms. Her family, school mates and neighbors thought she was crazy since she skipped some classes so that she could practice running. She was the first one to ever succeed through running in her entire village.

Catherine was motivated with the fact that growing children in her village did not have any role model or someone to look up to and challenge them. Ndereba’s community always portrayed women as people who just sit and wait to be provided for so her being on the screens having made it came very shocking to her people. Her experience became an inspiration to the people around her.

Having been brought up from a humble background, one that deprived her of everything else including shoes, the champion had to persevere and give her best in order to achieve her dream.

Also referred to as Catherine the Great, the athlete pressed on after figuring she could run, her oozing passion for athletics and the urge to move away from poverty led her to run barefoot. Catherine was challenged to give her best after her father struggled to pay for her boarding fees; her father’s unwavering determination became Catherine’s driving force.

The award-winning athlete till date is one of the most respected and gifted runner. The one out of ten children did not let poverty pin her down instead she used it as motivation to grow to greater heights.

Catherine Ndereba is a role model to many. Notwithstanding the fact that she has being pestered, hectored and discouraged from doing what she loves most, the champion has stood fearless and practiced diligently to build her name in the athletics world.

Social Responsibility

She didn’t end there, she used her success to improve other people’s life and help in poverty reduction. The talented runner gave back to the society wholeheartedly.

The champ founded a special school outside Nairobi where children can focus on their education at the same time dedicate their time to running.

After undergoing a whole lot of challenges, she thought it wise to make life better for other people. The athlete has proven beyond doubt that everything is possible with passion and dedication. Catherine’s inspiring story was filmed with a Canadian based Television. Her unswerving enthusiasm and success could not be missed. The athlete demonstrated that negative comments and thoughts can always be used for positive gain. The former runner encouraged many young Turks.

Over the years she interacted with many school going children especially those in Secondary school. She without doubt impacted many.

From being referred Crazy Catherine to Catherine the great, the athlete believes all her successes was God’s doing and favor upon her life.

Catherine Quotes

The titleholder has always been motivated by the following quotes:

“If I have nothing to sacrifice, I have nothing to gain.”“I don't run anybody else's race. When the gun goes off, I must evaluate with my own body and see. Then, as the race develops, I run accordingly. So you can say that I do not have a set tactic for any race.”

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