A Star Is Born | Bendere Oboya
In just over one-year of Ethiopian-born Sydney teenager, Bendere Oboya improved from 75 seconds to 52.69 in the 400m to go from an unknown athlete to the 2017 Commonwealth Youth champion and record a Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games qualifier in July 2017.
In 2003, aged three, Bendere arrived in Australia with her family including four siblings. After four years in little athletics and with a 400m PB of 75 seconds, in 2016 she decided to concentrate on the 400m. Preparing to travel to the US on a school athletics tour, she wanted to run at her best, so she and her coach Greg Smith started working together. Within a few months, at the Combined High School (Sept 2016) athletics carnival, she broke 59 seconds for the first time. Over the summer, she continued to slash her PB to 57, then in January 55.67, NSW juniors 55.01, NSW open championships 54.14 and then 53.30 to win the title.
At the national juniors in March, she ran 53.02 and was selected for her international debut at the July 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games (under-18) in Nassau in the Bahamas. She won the title in another PB 52.69, also a Commonwealth Games qualifying time. She has closed the year as the second-fastest under-18 in the world, behind American Arria Minor.
An injury in late 2017 hampered her summer season but when she started she was brilliant first running a PB of 52.48 seconds at the NSW Championships.
In mid-February at the Australian Championships and Commonwealth Games trials, she placed second in another significant PB time of 51.94 seconds, which was an A qualifier and secured her automatic selection for the Games. Her time made her the third-fastest junior (under-20) in Australian history, behind Cathy Freeman and Jana Pittman.