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Cheruiyot, Chepkirui, Kipyego seal Olympics slots

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NAIROBI, Kenya, June 15- Double World Champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, led the chase for the latest instalment of Kenyan London Olympics tickets by seamlessly winning the women 10000m Trial on Friday.

Without breaking sweat, Cheruiyot arrived on the line ahead of all challengers in 32:24.52 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani to seal her place as runner-up Caroline Chepkirui and Daegu silver winner, Sally Kipyego who trailed in third being announced as her London teammate in the 25 and a half-lap race.

However, 2009 World Champion and Daegu bronze winner, Linet Masai, saw her hopes for a second Olympics showing buried after she stunned all gathered when she dropped out of the race with four-laps to go.

Masai was fourth at the Beijing edition and was tipped to be among the front runners for London having been the best female 10000m runner in the country before last year when Cheruiyot stole the thunder from her.

“I’m so happy for this day because I have qualified for the Olympics Games which I was aiming for. This has given me morale for next week’s 5000m Trials now that I want to double in London and do the best for this country,” the ‘Pocket Rocket’ said after edging the selection race that was for most part, competed in pedestrian place.

With nine forming the leading pack after 18-laps were navigated, Cheruiyot only moved to the lead at the bell and despite applying the brakes to her famed last-lap devastating finish that brought her the 5000m and 10000m crowns in South Korea, she had enough pedigree to hold-off the battling Chepkirui (32:24.51) for top honours.

Kipyego, who returned to the country a fortnight ago after competing at the Pre Fontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, was further back in third with 32:26.82 on the clock as Berlin Marathon champion, Florence Kiplagat crossed in 32:27.54 for fourth- a performance that in the end, proved insufficient to hold down an Olympics slot.

“We can confirm the top three finishers from the Trial will compete in London. We are satisfied with the team, especially Vivian who won here since she has shown she is still in top form after what she did for the country last year,” Athletics Kenya chief, Isaiah Kiplagat said after announcing the latest additions to the London athletics squad.

Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma, who was on hand to hand the medals to the podium finishers concurred with the AK boss but urged the team to be wary of the Ethiopian threat in London.

“We saw how the Ethiopians ran in New York in the other day and this team needs to train hard to ensure they are at their best. As a Government, we shall give them all the support and motivation they need to do us proud.

“Cheruiyot proved she can do it last year and now she has the chance to confirm her performance,” Otuoma declared.

The return to form of double Olympics champion, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba as the biggest hurdle to her dream to become the first Kenyan female athlete to win two gold medals at the Olympics was put across to the headline act of the day.

“She does not scare me and I have no fear of Dibaba or (archrival) Meseret Defar since we have to race together and I’m ready to face them since I have competed against them in the past,” she braved inviting an enticing prospect of a showdown that could go down distance running folklore in London.

While Cheruiyot fulfilled her favourite’s role to perfection, the arrival of Chepkirui, the Iten based runner who won the second medal at the All Africa Games in Maputo last year in second was stunning as well.

“I have run in Africa but now I’m at the Olympics! I prayed and prayed to God to give me this chance and finally I made it. I trained hard for my speed and even if I was targeting the top three, I was not expecting to finish where I did,” the Africa Cross Country champion who won the senior women 8km title in South Africa in March gasped.

Barely able to contain her breadth, Chepkirui who won silver over 1500m in Maputo said her ambition was to introduce herself to the world by finishing in a podium position at the Olympics.

“I will work hard and learn from my teammates so that I can win a medal for my country again. I believe as a team, we can win all the medals like they did in Daegu last year,” she pressed.

Although Kipyego was delighted by ensuring that she will be part of Team Kenya for the second successive major championships, she cited the change of altitude as the contributor to her inability to reach the heights she hit last year when she was Cheruiyot’s bridesmaid.

“I only came here two weeks ago unlike last year when I trained here for most of the time but I believe by the time the Olympics come, I will be at my best and who knows! Maybe it will be my turn to be at the middle of the podium,” the graduate nurse stated.

Kipyego also confirmed she will be among those chasing tickets in the 5000m next week.

WOMEN 10000M TRIAL RESULTS

1. Vivian Cheruiyot Kenya Police 32:24.52
2. Joyce Chepkirui Admin. Police 32:24.71
3. Sally Kipyego Individual 32:26.82
4. Florence Kiplagat Kenya Police 32:27.54
5. Priscah Jepleting North Rift 32:38.29
6. Betsy Saina Nairobi 32:46.81
7. Margaret Akai North Rift 32:47.67
8. Dorris Changeiywo Defence Forces 32:52.11
9. Sharon Cherop Defence Forces 32:59.1
10.Caroline Kilel South Rift 33:10.2

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