NAIROBI, Kenya, June 14- Daegu Worlds double champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, has stiff internal competition on her hands, or is it feet, as she bids to secure the first of two London Olympic tickets she is seeking during the women 10000m Trial on Friday.
With the 2012 National Championships that kicked off on Thursday being deprived of the quality event a Kenyan track and field showpiece is supposed to offer, the women 10000m Olympics selection final has come in handy as a worthy showstopper.
Having seamlessly won the women 10000m Trial ahead of last year’s Daegu World Championships, one would expect the runner nicknamed ‘Pocket Rocket’ to consider London qualification to be a done deal owing to her extended unbeaten run.
However, Cheruiyot, spent Thursday watching the action unfold at Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani where the Olympics 25-lap women qualification showdown will unfold, with some trepidation.
“I’m not even sure I will compete,” she offered as Kenya’s leading physiotherapist, Dr. Peter Nduhiu, applied ice on her left foot to ease the effects of an ankle strain.
“This time, the competition is tough and it will be a very cagey race, with everyone keen not to run as a pace maker, go out too early or sit until it is too late,” Cheruiyot added.
Although she is yet to feature in the 10000m since she won the World title in Daegu in 30:40.98 on August 27 last year, Cheruiyot is the overwhelming favourite to nail a London ticket ahead of all comers at the Kenyan Trial.
Coming to the race with a world leading 14:35.62 ran at the Golden Gala in Rome (31 May) the African 5000m titleholder has an imposing field to contend with.
Oregon based Sally Kipyego, who chased her hard to the line for silver in Daegu in 30:50.54 as well as in the Trials prior has been installed as the second seed.
Like Cheruiyot, Kipyego has avoided the 25-lap race so far this year and finished second on her last outing, the PreFontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, where she ran a career best 8:35.39 over 3000m and holds a season’s best of 15:15.41 over 5000m.
The 2009 World titleholder, Linet Masai, who finished in the bronze position in Daegu on her title defence , has kept her cards close to her chest but she brings inspiration from home to the race having seen her elder sibling, Moses, qualify for London by finishing second in the equivalent Kenyan men Trial in Oregon.
Masai, who ordinarily has a busy opening to a track season, has only featured in three events this year, two 10K road races in Manchester where she won (May 20) and World’s Best in San Juan, Puerto Rico where Cheruiyot beat her to third (February 26) in addition to victory at the Seville Cross Country in January.
Berlin Marathon champion, Florence Kiplagat, who finished the Pre Fontaine Classic second only to Ethiopian double Olympics champion, Tirunesh Dibaba over 10000m (30:24.39 against 30:24.85), the top-two leading times of 2012 is the most potent of dark horses.
Kiplagat is keen on securing a London ticket after a fourth finish at April’s London Marathon (2:20:57) proved not to be enough for selection in the ultimate distance event although she has been placed on alternate list by Athletics Kenya (AK).
“It is okay for Florence to try for qualification in 10000m but she is our standby runner in the women marathon squad,” AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat said on Tuesday.
Daegu fourth finisher, Priscah Jepleting Cherono, Japan based Sally Chepyego, 26, who ran 32:05.04 for third in Kobe on April 22, the 2010 World Cross champion, Emily Chebet, All Africa Games winner, Joyce Chepkurui and double All African bronze winner, Pauline Korikwiang are other entrants with the legs to nab a surprise Olympic ticket.
According to the time table, the showdown will be the first offering on the track for the chief guests in a start penned for 12:40pm (+3GMT).
Focus will then shift to Nyayo National Stadium on June 23 for the last of the Kenyan track and field Trials for London.