By Omulo Okoth
|Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego in action against Gelete Burka, Julia Bleasdale and Molly Huddle in the 5,000m event. [PHOTOS : AP]|
It’s another Kenya versus Ethiopia battle this evening. Double Kenyan champion Vivian Cheruiyot and twice Olympic champion over 10,000m Tirunesh Dibaba are expected to set the Olympic Park Stadium here alight with another vicious competition in the women’s 5,000m.
Some forty minutes, Hellen Obiri will be racing in the 1,500m final. But it is the 5,000m final that has set tongues wagging here. And athletics fans and observers are only discussing another Kenya versus Ethiopia battle.
Both sides have strong candidates for the gold medal because here, any other medal doesn’t matter. It’s the ultimate prize that is important. The winner takes all the glory.
But the Kenyan camp was boosted by the qualification on Wednesday night of Julius Yego to the javelin final, which will be held saturday.
“Yego has done us proud and I hope the 5,000m team will not spoil that celebration. We have discussed how to tackle the race against the Ethiopians who stick with us through then kick,” said Kenya’s head coach Julius Kirwa.
Yego qualified with a throw of 81.81m, another new national record under his belt. He was placed ninth among the top qualifiers, while the top thrower was V. Vesely, who marked 88.34.
Sally Kipyego, who won silver medal in 10,000m last Sunday and Viola Kibiwot are the other Kenyans in this race. Kipyego won silver last Sunday after Dibaba’s sprint finish upset Kenya’s favourite Cheruiyot.
Cheruiyot and Kipyego are very efficient running partners and the crowd will await again with bated breadth how they hope to stop the Ethiopians.
Apart from Dibaba who won both 5,000m and 10,000m in Beijing four years ago, Meseret Defar, who won the ace in Athens Olympics in 2004 and Gelete Burka, a former world indoor 1,500m champion, are the other Ethiopians.
The rest of the field could just be escorting the six, even with a massive support by home fans that are expected to rally behind Joanne Pavey.
“If they can’t shake off the Ethiopians early, then Kenya will face another tricky evening. Ethiopians have perfected their kick and they know when to unleash it,” commented a coach from West Africa.