World champion Cheruiyot faces challenge from Saina and Kipyego
She has bagged the biggest prize in global distance running, with 2011 IAAF Female Athlete Performance Award and the prestigious Laureus awards safely tucked under her belt.
But one precious medal is missing from her collections –an Olympic 10,000m gold medal, which no Kenyan woman has ever won.
And Vivian Cheruiyot, a silver (5,000m) and bronze (10,000m) medalist at the London Olympics, begins the hunt for Olympic gold during the national trials at Kipchoge Keino Stadium on Thursday.
Vivian, who started running while a Standard Four pupil at Chemwabul Primary School in Keiyo South, will line up in 10,000m against US based Betsy Saina, Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Sally Kipyego, Sally Kaptich, Gladys Chesir, 2008 world cross country junior silver medalist Irene Chebet Cheptai and former Africa cross country junior champion Caroline Chepkoech.
Former world cross country bronze medalist Jackline Chepng’eno, Amsterdam Marathon winner Joyce Chepkirui, 2006 world junior 3,000m champion Veronica Nyaruai and new catch Felista Macharia are others to watch.
But Vivian, an Inspector of Police attached to Directorate of Criminal Investigations, seems ready to stop any aggression: “I am focusing on the Olympics. I really miss the Olympics victory, but hope to give it my best this time. I have been in intensive training to ensure I am in good form at the trials, just undergoing a serious training that include hill work, loading, gym, speed work and all that makes me remain in good shape.”
Vivian finished fourth in 3,000m in Doha (8:31.86), her best time over the distance since 2009, before she won 5,000m in 15:12.79 ahead of Mercy Cherono (15:12.85) and Janeth Kisa (12:19.48).
Sally Kipyego, who missed Beijing Worlds last year after she took a fall mid-way, would compete in 5,000m and 10,000m in the trials.
“I want to double (5,000m and 10,000m) in trials but I am yet to decide. I am waiting for the programme to be unveiled so that I choose which one to compete in first,” said Kipyego.
The selections will also renew the usual rivalry between world 10,000m silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki, fourth in 2015 Beijing Worlds.
The clash, which will be spiced up by two-time world bronze medalist Paul Tanui, lays the ground for Kenya’s bid to dethrone Britain’s double Olympic champion Mo Farah.
Kamworor and Karoki beat Mo Farah at the 21st IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales, in March and Rio Olympics showdown promises a bruising battle.
Kamworor said: “I want to double up but I am yet to decide whether to compete in 5,000m. I am ready for the trials.”
Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medalist Josphat Bett, former world cross country junior bronze medalist Patrick Mutunga, former world cross country junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton, Emmanuel Kipsang, Geoffrey Kirui, former world cross country bronze medalist Vincent Kiprop Chepkok and former world youth 3,000m champion William Sitonik will also compete.
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