NAIROBI, Kenya, October 7- Double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot is exuding confidence that her rise to the pedestal of female distance track running will be capped by winning the IAAF World Athlete of the Year accolade in Monaco on November 12.
Speaking after she was named as one of the 20 nominees in the running for the prestigious Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards at the World Gala, Cheruiyot also expressed her delight at getting the nod on a campaign where she swept all top honours she competed for.
“It’s great for me since it is my first time to be nominated for the IAAF Gala. Words cannot say how I feel but it has made me very happy,” Cheruiyot said from her Kaptagat home in the Kenyan Rift Valley.
“The nomination has given me morale to train harder. I just resumed training after a month of relaxation and the news has given me even more reason to be prepared well for next year,” she added.
On her odds of becoming the first Kenyan female to bag the biggest decoration in athletics, the women 5000m and 10000m titleholder stated;
“There is a big chance I will become the female winner this year but since its my first time, I don not know how the voting goes and if I do not win it, I will work towards returning there next year.”
The diminutive 28-year-old first won the World Cross senior women title in Punta Umbria in March before her double act at the Daegu World Championships elevated her to uncharted waters in her country’s history.
Not done, she successfully held on to her Diamond Trophy in women 5000m in addition to setting the national record in the same race when she blasted to 14:20.87 in Stockholm in July.
Her extraordinary feat that followed in the footsteps of former Women Athlete of the Year, Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia established Cheruiyot as one of the finest female distance runners on the planet.
A prodigious junior talent, Cheruiyot steady development has been among the catalysts of her nation’s emergence from a period of Ethiopia’s dominance in the sport.
Born in the rural Keiyo district in Kenya’s Rift Valley, running soon became her way of life and she enjoyed her first taste of international competition at the tender age of 15 when she finished fifth in the junior race at the 1998 World Cross Country Championships.
In 2008, Pamela Jelimo, the Olympics 800m champion who rose from obscurity to command the two-lap race was the closest female candidate for the prestigious award but IAAF decided to honour her as a rising star.
Other Kenyan nominees include the reigning Male World Athlete of the Year, David Rudisha and Patrick Makau Musyoki, who sliced 21 seconds from the world marathon record in Berlin two weeks ago.
“Having three Kenyans as nominees means we have struggled so hard to be the best and this will motivate our runners to aim even higher next time,” Cheruiyot concluded.