Pocket rocket a proud Aussie

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

BENDERE Oboya is so proudly an Aussie that she had the per­fect an­swer in the Ba­hamas when a string of Kenyan ath­letes quizzed her on why she hadn’t found a way to run for her birth coun­try of Ethiopia.

“I kept get­ting that ques­tion at the track and I just said ‘ I live in Syd­ney, I’ve ev­ery rea­son to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia and be re­ally grate­ful for op­por­tu­ni­ties I never thought I’d have’,” the en­gag­ing new 400m star­let said.

Her big per­sonal best ( 52.69 sec) to win gold was Aus­tralia’s stand­out show­ing at the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games be­cause it has spun this tiny 45kg sliver of a girl within tan­ta­lis­ing reach of a far grander stage on the Gold Coast in April.

The run was inside the B- qual­i­fy­ing level for the Com­mon­wealth Games and has thrust her into the mix for the medal- qual­ity 4 x 400m re­lay squad be­cause only Rio Olympics dar­ling Morgan Mitchell has run faster as an Aussie this year.

Oboya, 17, ded­i­cated her two gold medals in the Ba­hamas to her par­ents for their sac­ri­fices to set up a bet­ter life in Syd­ney’s west at Pen­dle Hill.

She was just three when par­ents Akech and Opamo found a way out of Gam­bela, in the west­ern cor­ner of Ethiopia near the South Su­dan bor­der where in­dis­crim­i­nate killings, poverty and in­sta­bil­ity jar the daily tempo.

Now only photo al­bums re­mind the Year 12 school­girl of her for­mer life.

“I grew up as a Mor­mon and it was mainly the church and other fam­ily mem­bers who helped us with fur­ni­ture and ba­sics when we ar­rived in Aus­tralia,” Oboya said in her dis­tinct Aussie ac­cent.

She can’t re­mem­ber her mother Akech, a chicken fac­tory worker, ever be­ing on a proper hol­i­day, cer­tainly not one to the Caribbean where the young­ster held the Queen’s Ba­ton in the 34th coun­try it has vis­ited on a 230,000km re­lay to the Gold Coast for the Com­mon­wealth Games.

This pocket- sized sur­prise who has never done gym work to aid her strength may just be on a crazy course to the Gold Coast her­self.

“Ev­ery­thing is go­ing a bit too fast ... I never ex­pected my times to drop so far be­cause I was like run­ning 22 sec­onds slower at the start of last year when I didn’t even have a coach,” Oboya said.

“I would re­ally love to rep­re­sent at the Com­mon­wealth Games if I’m ready. I think I’m ready.

“My en­durance is just my genes be­cause I’ve never done gym.

“I can get a lot stronger and learn more about the 400 ... that’s my race even though peo­ple al­ways ex­pect me to say the 1500.”

IN THE FAST LANE: Australian Youth Com­mon­wealth Games ath­lete Bendere Oboya who won the 400m gold medal.

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