BERLIN, August 22 – Kenya enjoyed a fantastic day in Berlin on Saturday winning two gold medals to inject fresh life into the country’s quest for medals at the World Athletics Championships.
Vivian Cheruiyot made history by becoming the first woman to win a World 5000 metres title just hours after Abel Kirui led compatriot Emmanuel Mutai to a 1-2 finish in the men’s marathon and later in the night.
Twenty five year old Cheruiyot stunned Ethiopia’s reigning world champion Meseret Defar in the last 50 metres to win in 14:57.97.
“I was a silver medallist in Osaka but now I am a world champion. We saw the way Linet won the 10,000 metres gold and it gave us morale. And because I also train with her and we use the same programmes. I was telling myself that I should also win and in the last 100 metres I just went for it,” said an excited Cheruiyot.
Countrywoman Sylvia Kibet finally made the podium after two fourth place finishes in Beijing and Osaka cliching silver in a time of 14:58.33.
“Am very grateful because am always fourth but this year I have made the podium. We had agreed to stick together but take the pace up after six laps. I have been training very hard and that is why I have even done my personal best this year,” said Kibet.
Earlier in the day, Kenya once again demonstrated its prowess in road running as 27 year old Kirui led from the halfway mark to win gold in a new championship record of 2:06:54.
"I was overjoyed with emotion. You know as I approached the finish line I could not believe it was happening. It is great for me to win in these championships because this is my first time to win gold and represent Kenya,” said Kirui.
Mutai who was also making his debut in a Kenyan vest clinched an impressive silver.
“The race was very good. I worked very hard and it showed today. I am delighted to win silver in my very first time to represent Kenya. It’s a big appreciation for me and also for my country,” said Mutai.
“We decided to run as a team and help each other with pace making to ensure that we won the individual title and it worked very well,” he added.
Four time Boston marathon champion Robert Mwafrika Cheruiyot was fifth in a time of 2:10:46.
“We had to push the pace because the Ethiopians were very strong. Even if the other two Kenyans were ahead, I had to keep going because I wanted us to win the team title,” stated Cheruiyot.
Head coach Peter Mathu was delighted with his charges’ performances.
“All our runners were very strong and we had prepared for the race for the last five months, we set them out to run as a team and not give anyone a chance. I am very happy with Cheruiyot especially who really set the pace for the others. Today proves that Kenya is the best in marathon,” said Mathu.
Kenya now has four gold, four silver and two bronze.