STOCKHOLM, Sweden, July 31- Vivian Cheruiyot raised eyebrows with her magical Kenyan record and World leading 5000m performance at the DN Galan meeting on Friday night, the 11th stop of the Samsung Diamond League series.
Then less than two hours after her vintage success in Sweden’s equally historical and captivating 1912 Olympic Stadium she made the ears of those listening in the Nordic Light Hotel’s restaurant eagerly grasp what was a ground breaking announcement.
Cheruiyot, after her exertions and having satisfied her hunger with a late night meal after romping around the track in 14:20.87, insisted that a sub-14 minute performance by a woman athlete is definitely on the cards.
“Next year and it will be me – I’m serious,” said the smiling, totally enthusiastic reigning World 5000m champion about the task, who believes after having thrashed her talented rivals and winning by around 120 metres, is genuinely convinced the milestone figure will be broken sooner rather than later.
Cheruiyot’s suggestion may sound far fetched but she has a strong argument given Tirunesh Dibaba’s current three-year-old World record stands at 14:11.15 and her fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar was slightly slower when clocking the second fastest ever time with 14:12.88 six weeks later.
Those performances came in the rarified air of Scandinavia and the respective capital cities of Oslo and Stockholm, the accepted northerly homes of hosting top notch distance running events which saw the legendary Australian Ron Clarke – and others since – produce so many memorable performances during his stellar career in the mid-1960s.
Now 27-year-old Cheruiyot is the latest to benefit from the green environment at the venues of the balmy midnight sun, although not for the first time.
In 2007 she set her previous 5000m personal best of 14:22.51 although eclipsed by Defar’s then-World record time of 14:16.63 on that occasion at Oslo’s Bislett Games.
Cheruiyot herself may on paper be 20 seconds shy of breaking 14 minutes, but taking into consideration the blustery wind and the fact she ran solo for the last 3000 metres in her third Samsung Diamond League success this summer, in the right conditions and company, arguably given her un-abandoned running, it might have been a dozen seconds quicker.
Indeed that was the intention of the multi-talented star that despite her slender frame possesses massive strength substantiated by the IAAF World Cross Country senior and junior gold medals which sit comfortably alongside her other global honours.
“I was thinking I was going to attempt a World record but because of the weather which was not good it didn’t happen,” said Cheruiyot. “I was saying to myself: ‘I’m going to try’. But I still (in the future) have hopes of breaking it.”
Coming from a seasoned performer who made her Olympic debut at a tender age just 11 days after her 17th birthday placing 14th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, cynics may have to accept a new World record isn’t an impossible dream and it could be on the cards along with taking the 12 1/2 laps time below 14 minutes, which would involve speedy kilometre splits of just under 2:48.
Given she ran 2:55.35 and 5:47.19 against occasional gusts of two and three metres per second on Friday before her explosive breakaway which immediately opened a huge 40m gap and then passed three kilometers in 8:38.67, the likelihood of her positively thought out dreams, although mind boggling, remains very feasible.
And given she was running solo for the last two kilometres and the vacuum between her and a chasing pack got longer and longer, if she is against the right opposition such as Defar and Dibaba, it really could become a reality one of them will announce a new era.
“Yes I saw it on the screen,” Cheruiyot recalled with a giggle as her lead with seven laps remaining became a yawning distance and that she had crossed the line and was appreciating the accolades of the excited spectators before the runner-up, fellow countrywoman Sally Kipyego, entered the home straight to finish in 14:43.87.
“They knew my plan and when the pace at 3000 which should have been 8:40, but was faster, I said to myself ‘I’m going to try’. It didn’t happen but I believe it will.”
On title defence in Daegu – ‘I think I’m going to do something special there’
Cheruiyot, the World Championships on her mind, added: “I wanted the pace to be faster and I wanted to try and push it by myself. Now I’m going to train for Daegu. I don’t have another race until getting there.” She warned the opposition: “I’m in good shape and I think I’m going to do something special there.”
The only contradiction of an interesting interview conducted as she finished off her meal with a glass of fruit juice came when asked which was the greatest achievement – winning the 2009 World title or her latest national record.
“Yes tonight,” she said, “because it was a national record and a world best.” But given time to think she quickly reached a compromise.
“They are different,” she said. “This was breaking a record while the other victory was about winning the gold medal. Of course that was big also and this was a great improvement – so they were both equal!”
Catching the eye of her manager Ricky Simms and his partner Marion, another huge smile appeared on her face.
“I will never change my manager,” she said with pride in her eyes, illustrating what is a family relationship existing between them. “They are nice people and they support me in my training and also help my husband Moses Kiplagat in Kenya. So I like them very much.”