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Kenya’s ‘Fergie’ out to shock Russia

RUDISHA-FLAGNAIROBI, Kenya, July 26- In the absence of record holder David Rudisha, the Kenyan men’s 800m team for the Moscow World Championships is preparing to unleash the X-factor as it bids to hold on to the crown.

One team member aiming to cast his name in golden letters at the event is little-known Ferguson Cheruiyot, who made the Kenyan squad after finishing second at the Moscow Trials on July 13 when he raced his 1:44.38 lifetime best against all odds.

“We want to do it for Rudisha and show the world that even without him; Kenya still has the men capable of winning the world title.

“He is the reason I started running 800m and I’m looking forward to speak to him and know how he did it.

“We will go there to fight for his honour and do our country proud especially now that many are not giving us a chance, we want to go there and shock everyone,” the youngster who started competing last year upon completing his O-Level studies in 2010 boldly underlined his mission.

“Rudisha has been a role model to me and when I started training last July, I focused on the 800m to try and compete in the same team with him. It’s sad he is injured and will miss Moscow.

“We shall try all we can to bring back his gold medal back home since that responsibility rests with us,” the tall, dark runner added.

“It will all depend on how one wakes up on the day and since we have trained well, anything is possible. If I was to speak to Rudisha, I would ask him tips on how to improve my starting. If I get that right, then getting a medal is possible,” he said.

Cheruiyot tested his wits on the international circuit at the Monaco IAAF Diamond League on July 19 but he left the track with a lot to ponder after trooping home to earn the wooden spoon with the clock reading 1:44.89.

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“It was my second time in Europe and I’m grateful I went to Monaco. I would not have known what happens when you remain behind at the start and I learnt that if that happens, you cannot catch up with them.

“That is why I’m back here focused on improving my reaction at the start and how to stay ahead since I posses the speed,” the athlete who changed his first name owing to his love for the retired Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson who left Old Trafford last season after bagging 28 trophies for the reigning English Premier League champions.

“I’m a keen fan of the team and their winning mentality, they cannot stop winning and that is why I chose to be known as Ferguson,” he offered.

He then delivered a warning to those writing off Kenya’s chances in the event as he prepares to partner with London Olympics semi-finalist, Anthony Chemut and Jeremiah Mutai in Moscow.

“The way people are talking (about our chances) is very disappointing and we promise them we are coming to silence them. They are giving us the desire to go there and prove a point,” Rotich added.

Having made his 800m debut on May 17 at the Kenya Prisons Track and Field Championships where he placed third in 1:47.3, his progression to the national team in a country where getting a place in mid and long distances is akin to winning the lottery has been nothing short of astonishing.

Cheruiyot put together a 1:45.40 victory at the World Challenge meet in Dakar, Senegal in his very next outing on June 12 before he came on the national coaches radar when he took silver (1:45.1) during Kenya National Championships on June 22.

Five days later, he marked his European debut with a fourth finish at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet, clocking 1:44.93 in the Czech Republic in a race won by the frontrunner for the gold medal in Russia, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman (1:43.78) and even then, no one gave him a chance at the Trials for Moscow where he nailed his Worlds slot by escorting Chemut to the altar.

“I’m so thrilled by making the Kenyan team but it did not come as a surprise, I knew I could compete well since I’m in good shape,” Cheruiyot stated.

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Kenya head coach, Sammy Rono, is banking on the element of the unknown in his men 800m line-up to cause an upset at the 14th edition of the biennial IAAF track and field showpiece that runs from Aug. 10 to 18.

“It’s a good thing we have a new line-up now. They are young and energetic and I will take them through video shows and discuss and agree with them and if they right us off, there are surprises there.

“This is not a Diamond League meeting, there are no pacemakers, it’s a championship where every athlete will race alone, shocks have happened before, that is all what I can say for now.”

Rudisha was ruled out for the season with a knee injury meaning he will not add a second world title to the Olympics crown he won in 1:40.91 world record time last year in London.

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