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"The Petticoat Princess"

Ironically, she was names the “Petticoat Princess.” She was the first Kenyan female athlete to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games when she claimed the bronze medal in the 800m at the 1974 games in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her first race was won in 1973 when she ran barefoot in only her petticoat. Her name? Sabina Chebichi. Definitely not a household name, but I have been so impressed by her story, I felt compelled to share!

She was born on June 13, 1959 in the hills of western Kenya of the Nandi,Kipsigie and Kisii tribes. There have been a few stars produced in this part of the country, but she was the first female. Myth is that people from this area are known to have longer legs, deeper chests or bigger hearts than other Kenyans. Whether there is any truth to that is purely speculative. Perhaps more likely is that children in this part of the world spend much time running up and down steep hillsides tending family livestock. The fact remains that western Kenya has produced some of the world’s greatest runners. The most recent is child star Sabina Chebichi, a fourteen year old super star. She is a shy, lanky, humble schoolgirl who lives in humble circumstances. She did not even possess the most rudimentary equipment for athletics, running clothes, or shoes. Rather, she ran 800 meters in 2 minutes 16.8 seconds and the women’s race, 1500 meters in 4 minutes 40 seconds, times within measurable world records, barefoot and in her bright green petticoat.

Word spread of her ability and soon the media was alive with news about her and people were so impressed she was sent running gear and proper shoes. Kenya has a new athletics superstar and she is just a girl!


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