26 February 2017
Profile: 16-year-old 53.30 400m athlete Bendere Oboya
An improvement of 21 second over 12 months in the 400 metres is a stunning achievement. These are the numbers summing up the progress of a special 16-year-old talent - Bendere Oboya. David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall spoke to Oboya and her coach for Athletics NSW.
Over the weekend at the 120th NSW Track and Field Championships Oboya defeated one of the strongest ever 400m fields at the NSW Championships, clocking a time of 53.30. In her mid-teens, she is now the 16th fastest under-20 female athlete in Australian history. Not surprising at this early stage she is the world’s leading youth aged athlete. But what is her limit? Her coach Greg Smith admitted after today’s race: “It is scary, I don’t know where we go from here.”
Greg Smith first meet her 12 months ago when she asked for some coaching to prepare for one of the self-funded non-official tours to Canada.
“At the time she knew some of the girls I trained and was impressed by the times they ran,” recalled Smith. “I asked if she had run any 400s and she said yes and I’ve run about 1:15. I helped her prepare for the Canadian trip. We trained up for that trip and when she returned, she was stoked as she ran a 59. Then we trained for CHS (September 20176), bring her time down to 58.46.”
“I never took 400m seriously until I started learning how to run it properly,” said the quietly spoken Oboya.
“Greg has been my coach since February last year. He is a great coach. My time has become so much better. I never thought I would improve that much, but once I started with Greg and learned how to run a four it did improve.”
Born in Gambela in Ethiopia, she came to Australia with her family when she was three. Considering her background is she more suited to endurance running?
“She first told me she wanted to train for the 400m. Just watch