NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – “I don’t care about Tirunesh Dibaba or Almaz Ayana, I am going to run for my country and my target is nothing less than gold.”
That is the warning world champion Vivian Cheruiyot sounded to the Ethiopian 10,000m women’s team led by defending champion Tirunesh, when the superstars clash at the Rio Olympic Games in the opening final on August 12.
Cheruiyot, who is stepping up her training in Eldoret, has set her sights on repeating her 2011 Daegu World Championships exploits where she bagged double in the 5000m and 10,000m.
In Rio, Cheruiyot will not only renew her rivalry with Dibaba, who condemned her to bronze at London 2012 but also face this season’s fastest runner in women’s 10,000m Ayana.
However, that does not disturb Cheruiyot, a mother of one who vowed to come back home with gold; the only missing title in her decorated cabinet.
“I want that gold badly because it’s the only medal that is missing in my career but I know everybody is looking for it in Rio and I am really praying God that he helps me win. Everyone is competitive,” the confident 32-year-old, nicknamed ‘Pocket Rocket’ stated.
“The Ethiopian team is very strong but that cannot make us worried, we are going to do our best because I know Alice (Aprot) and Saina (Betsy) are there. I am not going to Rio because of Dibaba or anybody else, my aim is to run for my lovely country. I feel this is my year to succeed and since I will double in Rio that’s a sign of good things to come,” she said.
Cheruiyot, who tore the women’s 10,000m at the Kenyan Trials, will also seek to better her silver medal in the 5000m that she bagged in 2012 behind Ethiopian Meseret Defar.
“We have a strong team in the 5000m and I am seeing my shape is coming up well better than last year. This one month that is head of me I am going to do a lot of training which will enable me come home with a gold medal. I am seeing a repeat of 2011,” Cheruiyot, who will representing Kenya in her third Olympics underscored.
In the 5000m, she will be joined by Commonwealth Games champions Mercy Cherono and 2012 World Indoor title holder Hellen Obiri.
In both events, Cheruiyot will be seeking to enter into history books as the first Kenyan woman to win gold at the Olympics after she came close in the 5000m and Sally Kipyego in the 10,000m during the London Games.
Cheruiyot said she will quit track and join marathon after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The Kenyan team is pitching camp at the high altitude training base in Eldoret, the city where the Trials took part early July.
On the other hand, Dibaba, the 5000m world record-holder and a five-time world champion on the track, will be aiming to become the first athlete in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles at 10,000m.
The 31-year-old took the 2015 season off after giving birth to son Nathan Sileshi and she finished third during the Ethiopian Trials behind second placed Gelete Burka and winner Ayana who is the 5000m world title holder.