NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – World and reigning Diamond Trophy 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot is bullish ahead of the ‘Kenya vs Norway’ Maurie Plant Memorial Race, a 2,000m virtual clash set for June 11.
While ‘Team Cheruiyiot’ will race in punishing altitude at the Nyayo National Stadium, ‘Team Ingebrigtsen’ made up of brothers Henrik, Jakob and Filip will race in low altitude Oslo, giving them a slight edge.
“I think they will stand at an advantage compared to us because the altitude definitely has a huge role to play in this kind of a race. Also, they have been training longer than us and are therefore fitter. We just recently started training on the track and for them, they have been doing that for a while,” Cheruiyot stated.
He added; “But we are ready for them to be honest. I am never afraid of a tough challenge and this is one for me. We have trained well with my team and picked up some good momentum since we started last week.”
Cheruiyot’s team will also have former world champion and reigning Commonwealth title holder Elijah Manangoi who is now fully fit from injury as well as 800m athlete Edwin Meli.
Vincent Yator and Timothy Sein will be the team’s pace setters.
“I think we have a very good team and everyone is fit. Elijah is a great person and friend and a brilliant athlete. Meli as well is a good competitor and of all of us, he is the fittest since when we went to the village, he remained behind training and is in very good form. We will be ready to compete,” Cheruiyot noted.
He says he has been working on his speed to ensure he can challenge for a good time in the race.
“When I was in the village I did quite well with long runs so my endurance is okay. Now I am just polishing up on the speed-work but I think I am in a good place. I have gained some very good progress,” said Cheruiyot.
He believes the race will give him a good head-start into the season and winning will be an extra topping on the cake after a tough three months where the COVID-19 situation has halted sports all over the world.
“It will be a very tough season because the program has not flowed well from when we started training in December. We had expectations and now the calendar has changed. We will need to adjust. We just pray that the pandemic finishes soon and we get back to competing,” Cheruiyot states.
He hopes to start his season at the Monaco leg of the new calendar released for the Diamond League while his main target remains vying for the Olympic title, an ambition also shared by his training partner Manangoi.
Meanwhile, Cheruiyot says the healthy competition between the two of them straight from the training ground has been beneficial as it has made each better, but is quick to underscore they celebrate each other’s victory because it comes down to the team.
“Manangoi is like my brother and my best friend as well. We train very well together and when we are in the club when anyone wins we are always thankful. Competition is very nice because even in training, the level goes up because everyone wants to win,” stated Cheruiyot.