Athletics Athletics

Cheruiyot victory crowns Police nationals

Vivian Cheruiyot addressing reporters at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on Saturday.
Vivian Cheruiyot addressing reporters at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on Saturday.

NAIROBI, June 6- Vivian Cheruiyot added the much needed star dust on a rain-soaked finale of the 2015 National Police Service Track and Field Championships on Saturday in Nairobi by stepping down the distance and snatching the women 1500m honours.

The diminutive ‘Pocket Rocket’ unlocked her revered afterburners 60m to the finish to burst past former World Junior champion, Irene Jelagat who towed the field through the laps to stop the clock in 4:14.7 for victory.

Cheruiyot who is bidding to reclaim the 5000m world title she won in 2009 and 11 at the Beijing edition in the summer was using the 1500m to build up speed as she continues her comeback from maternal duties where she was blessed with son Allan.

“Allan has made me more focused and I’m happy. I want to do well for him. Today was all about getting speed as I work to slowly get back to the shape I was then (2011). I’m pleased with my progress so far.

“Running 14:46.69 in my first race back on the international circuit in Eugene was a great. I’ll run in Rabat and Paris before the Trials to get in better shape since I’m only focusing on 5000m for the World Championships,” Cheruiyot who finished third in the IAAF Diamond League in Eugene, Oregon behind Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba and compatriot Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon asserted.

“Next year is the big one (Rio Olympics) and having returned from maternity, I cannot build the strength needed to double this season. The Olympics gold is the only medal I don’t have and that is my aim,” she explained.

“Watching Vivian come down to 1500m and win was the highlight of my day here. Disciplined forces need training to be fit to serve and I’m impressed with what I have seen in the National Police Service championships.

“I’m confident the disciplined forces will once again fly the Kenyan flag high at the World Championships,” Interior Security Cabinet Secretary and keen sports enthusiast, Major General (Rtd) Joseph Nkaiserry who was the chief guest added.

Jelagat, the 2011 All Africa Games champion who is also eyeing a slot in the women 1500m squad for Beijing clinched silver in 4:15.0 with Betty Njeri (4:19.1) leading the challengers home for bronze as intermittent heavy showers wrecked havoc on the final day at Nairobi’s Safaricom Stadium.

With most Police top guns away for the IAAF Diamond League meetings of Rome (Thursday) and Birmingham (Sunday), it was a manifestation of the deep talent in the most medallist disciplined force in the country with over 1000 athletes taking part over the three days.

Abednego Chesebe took the corresponding 1500m men title in 3:37.4 upsetting the favoured Collins Cheboi (3:39.1) who was part of the Kenyan record setting 4x1500m relay team to Bahamas last year as Abraham Kiplagat (3:39.4) closed the podium.

“Even though the big boys were not here, this win gives me motivation to work hard and force my way in the Kenya team. The race was hard with the heavy weather and good challengers and I waited until the final bend to go since I was preserving the energy,” the winner stated.

Joseph Kitur prevailed over a deep men 5000m field in 13:57.5 with James Kibet (13:58.0) and former World Junior champion and pre-race favourite, Josphat Bett (13:59.7) rounding the podium.

Commonwealth champion, Mercy Cherono, won the women’s 5000m on the opening day of action on Thursday.

The women 800m final served an upset when fast rising Eglay Nalianya upstaged 2009 World Youth champion and Olympian, Cherono Koech with the clocks returning 2:05.2 against 2:06.5 in a pedestrian race with Chepkemoi KIplagat taking the men’s honours.

In the first track final of the day, Rebecca Chesir was a cut above the rest, motoring to victory in 33:43.2, well ahead of veteran 2004 Olympics 5000m silver medallist, Isabella Ochichi who returned 33:47.1 for silver with Mercy Chemutai (33:50.4).

Fred Kogo took advantage of the absence of defending men Javelin champion and Commonwealth titleholder, Julius Yego to nick the Police crown with a best throw of 63.83m.

“Police Service contributes 90 percent of medals won by Kenya at major sporting events and this time, the trend will be the same at the World Championships. We will continue emphasising in sport to carry this forward,” Inspector General of Police, Joseph Boinnet who was presiding over his first Police Service Nationals remarked.