NAIROBI, Kenya, July 29 – Vivian Cheruiyot’s quest to be undisputed queen of 5,000 metres took another major step when she wrestled the African crown from the Ethiopians at the African Athletics Championships on Thursday.
Running against archrival Meseret Defar, Cheruiyot clocked 16:18.72 to complete a third win over her nemesis in just under a year to add the continental title onto her World title won in Berlin last August.
“I cannot say that am the queen of 5,000 metres but I am going to continue trying and keep winning as many races and as many titles as I can,” said an ecstatic Cheruiyot.
She may not allude to it but after playing second fiddle to the illustrious Ethiopian, the 25 year old has caught up and currently has the upper edge.
The statistics tell it all, having beaten her just once in ten meetings prior to Berlin, Cheruiyot has now beaten Defar three times in their last four meetings. Her only defeat was in Doha at the world Indoor Championships.
Defar must certainly be getting weary of the tiny Kenyan. Just like in Berlin, she had no answer to her ferocious finishing kick at a packed Nyayo National Stadium having to settle for silver in 16:20.54 with compatriot Sentayehu Ejigu snatching bronze in 16:22.32.
The race had an unbearably slow start with the leading pack going through 400 metres in 72 seconds, and 2:39 at 800 metres.
But with six laps to go, Cheruiyot decided she had had enough moving to the front and when the bell went, Cheruiyot turned on the after burners on the back straight before applying the coup de grace with 150 metres to coast to victory.
“I am delighted tow in gold here at home. It was a tough race but I made it. Its special especially after the injury I suffered at the start of the season but I have recovered now,” she said.
But was she worried about the pedestrian lap?
“The race was slow because there are no pacemakers in a championships and no one wants to be the rabbit so I decided to wait until the last three laps before pushing and in the last lap I was telling myself, am going to go until the finish and that I will not let it go no matter what,” said Cheruiyot.
And did beating Defar make it all the more sweeter “I am a happy to have beaten her because she is a great champion who has won many titles and was said to be unbeatable.”