Champ Vivian whips Defar to bag 5,000m gold
By Mutwiri Mutuota at Nyayo Stadium
Two down, one to go for Vivian Cheruiyot in her personal winning medal collection. In a blistering last lap, the world champion added the African women 5000m title to her trophy cabinet in yesterday’s highlight race as she won her country a second gold medal in the ongoing 17th Safaricom African Senior Athletics Championships.
"I’m very happy to win this medal. I’m praying to God that I will still be around in two years for the (London) Olympics," the newly forged African 5,000m best in 16:18.72 said alluding to the only major medal,yet to adorn her neck, having won silver in Beijing two years ago.
Her chief rival, Meseret Defar (16:20.54) and Sentayehu Ejigu (16:22.32) completed the Ethiopian-Kenya sandwich on the podium by taking silver and bronze.
In truth, the race was pedestrian, with the main protagonists opting to shadow each other for the better of ten laps. Berlin seventh finisher, Iness Chenonge who came forth in 16:22.65 was at intermittent period, trying to push the pace.
At the bell, two kicks from Cheruiyot got the crowd pumping, the first coming with 350m to go, and the devastating burst that accounted for victory was unleashed in the final curve, and no one on the field could match it.
"Congratulations to Vivian, she ran a great race particularly in the final lap," Defar, humbled but gracious said, as she lost to her bitter rival for the third time in a year. The contest between the 2007 World Champion and the Kenyan, who succeeded her in Berlin was what the fans came to see and they left with the gratifying feeling of victory. The Cheruiyot-Defar record was extended to 10-4 with the Ethiopian enjoying a six-year monopoly that was shattered last year just before Berlin.
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Since then, Cheruiyot has topped Defar at the Worlds, Lausanne and now, Nairobi.
"I’m pleased to be beating Defar, she has been a strong champion, somebody who could not be beaten, but I believe not unbeatable now," Cheruiyot said.
Esther Chemtai, the third Kenyan finished sixth (16:29.25) just behind Ethiopia’s Sule Utula (16:26.21) as the two East African rivals occupied the first six positions.
The world champion fulfilled the promise she made to her fans on Wednesday when she said, "Nothing will give me greater joy than to win gold here at home before our fans." With that wrapped, no one minded the fact the race was competed at a slug pace. Now, bring on London 2012!
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