NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – Vivian Cheruiyot curved her niche as an athlete who sported a grinning face, expressed her grit on track and trusted her killer sprint to destroy the opposition.
However, athletics fans will have to do without the diminutive athlete, especially in the build up and during World Championships as the 29-year-old take sabbatical from the sport for personal reasons.
“I have been considering it for sometime. But finally, I have opted to take leave this season. I must have my time with family. I will be out for sometime just like any other woman athlete,” said Cheruiyot, Tuesday in Eldoret.
“However, there should be no cause for worry. It is only me who will not be going to Moscow, there are other athletes who will carry the country flag in the championships and I am optimistic Kenyans will do well and have a bumper harvest of medals at the World Championships.”
Rumours have persisted that the Daegu Worlds champion had taken a break to attend to maternal duties and her statement confirms the news she and spouse Moses Kiplagat are expecting their first child.
The IAAF World Championships that runs in Moscow, Russia, from August 10-18. Well, it will be the first season that the Olympic silver medallist in 5,000m distance and bronze over the 10,000m will not be involved in the campaign.
Ever since she arrived on the national stage back in 1998, Cheruiyot has been a complete reflection of her tiny status.
She has dominated the distance running for so long that many have learnt to fear and respect her running. Many have fallen to her relentless attacks.
That illustrious campaign has seen her crowned, World Champion, Kenyan Sports Personality of the Year, 2012 Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award among other honours.
“I have won everything there is as a junior, and senior. But the only medal missing in my collection is the Olympic gold. I got silver and bronze from London Games, but ultimately, I will move for the gold, maybe in Rio before I bow out of track competition to focus on the marathon,” she said.
She single-handedly orchestrated the deconstruction of the empire Ethiopian women had fortified. Both Meseret Defer, the Olympic 5,000m champion and Tirunesh Dibaba, the London Games 10,000m queen can attest to her star performance and maybe the reason why they pushed their bodies so hard to make that extra step.
But she will now miss the action in Moscow, during the track and field biggest competition apart from the Olympics. Her announcement leaves Kenya exposed, as younger athletes have failed, time and again, to fill the void.
But she has confirmed that her sabbatical was pegged on calculation that she will be back in shape for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where she targets to bow out from the track with gold in either 10,000 or 5,000m distance. Her attempt to double in both at the London Games flopped last August.
Cheruiyot, will skip Friday’s Kenya Police Championships in Nairobi. She has been a lead figure in the police championships, where she has risen through the ranks to become the Chief Inspector of Police attached to the Criminal Investigations Unit.
World 5,000m silver medallist Sylvia Kibet, former world 10,000m champion Linet Masai, Priscah Jepleting, Mercy Cherono, Pauline Njeri and Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego will be among the athletes to watch out for both at the police event and the Kenya team.
Nicholas Kilisio, the Kenya Police athletics head coach, said Cheruiyot’s absence is not a major blow as there are other runners to fill her gap.
But he said world 800m champion David Rudisha will skip the championships to focus on the Diamond League, where he is expected to run in New York on Saturday.
“Rudisha and other stars like Asbel Kiprop, are free to run abroad as they chase qualifying standards and gauge the opposition ahead of World Championships,” said Kilisio.