BY GILBERT WANDERA
The trials to pick Kenya’s 10,000m women team to the London Olympics lived up to expectations in their intensity with former World champion Linet Masai the biggest casualty as she failed to finish the race.
Double World champion Vivian ‘Pocket Rocket’ Cheruiyot was pushed to the end, but still managed to win in 32:24.52 and book a place in Kenya’s team to London with surprise package Joyce Chepkurui from Administration Police second in 32:24.71.
Chepkurui, a silver medalist at the last All Africa Games, finished ahead of World silver medalist Sally Kipyego, who was third after clocking 32:26.82.
When the race started, the top runners ran behind, allowing Tanzanian Restituta Joseph, Caroline Kilel from South Rift and Margaret Akai to take the lead in the first five laps.
The leading pack managed 8:12.00 in the first six laps. Masai was in the last lot, but she suddenly took over from the 10th lap with Florence Kiplagat behind her.
Cheruiyot, Chepkurui and Kipyego were a few metres behind the leading pack and all looked comfortable as they chased the leaders.
Masai led the leading pack to cross the 13th lap in 17:25.02. In the 14th lap, Cheruiyot pushed herself to third position and from then the leading pack consisted of Masai, Kiplagat and Cheruiyot in that order, while Kipyego was in seventh position.
In the 17th lap it was Masai and Cheruiyot, but Chepkurui also appeared in the leading pack as the top eight athletes pulled away from the crowd. The leaders remained the same until the 20th lap which they crossed in 26:10.00, but from here it was obvious that Masai was struggling as she fell in fourth place and eventually dropped out after 22 laps.
The tussle was now between Cheruiyot and Chepkurui with Kipyego behind. The world champion’s final push made all the difference on the bend as she pulled away from Chepkurui to win.