Hellen Obiri sets sight on world record

Thursday August 10 2017

Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (right) celebrates with silver medallist Kenya's Helen Obiri after she won the Women's 5000m final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016. PHOTO | PEDRO UGARTE | AFP

Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (right) celebrates with silver medallist Kenya's Helen Obiri after she won the Women's 5000m final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016. PHOTO | PEDRO UGARTE | AFP  

By AYUMBA AYODI
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IN LONDON

Olympic 5,000 metres silver medallist Hellen Obiri is planning more than just a victory when Kenyans take the battle to defending Ethiopian champion Almaz Ayana in women’s semis on Thursday.

She wants the world record.

The 5,000m battle starts with the semi-finals today followed by the final on Sunday at the Olympic Stadium, London.

Obiri, who is returning to the same arena where she finished 10th in the 1,500m during the 2012 London Olympics, said she should easily sail through the semi-final and attempt breaking the world record the final on Sunday.

Obiri said she has prepared well unlike last year where she still managed to win silver in Rio, beating Ayana, who settled for bronze as Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot claimed gold.

Obiri, who is making her third appearance at the world event, will team up with African Games 5,000m champion Rose Chelimo and Africa 5,000m champion Sheila Chepkirui in the 5,000m battle.

Besides Ayana, who is fresh from winning world 10,000m title, Ethiopia will also unleash Genzebe Dibaba, who failed to defend her World 1,500m crown, and World 5,000m silver medallist Senbere Teferi.

“I just need to make the final where I will be looking for a fast race. I will attempt the world record if the weather permits me,” said Obiri, who holds the world lead and national record time of 14:18.37 with victory in Rome on June 8.

Obiri explained that while the time from Rome gives her an edge over the field, she will not be under pressure to perform.

“ I didn’t have good preparations for 5,000m last year but I am in tip-top form this year,” said Obiri, who started her season with cross country races in November.

“I have won ran in One Mile and 1,500m to get the speed I require besides the 3,000m and 5,000m for endurance. I am looking forward for victory having trained hard and well,” said Obiri.

DIBABA, AYANA IN CONTENTION

The 27-year-old has won all of her races at 3000m and 5000m this summer and holds world-leading marks in both events, clocking 8:23.14 to win the 3000m at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco and a Kenyan record of 14:18.37 to win the 5000m at the Diamond League meeting in Rome, making her the fifth-fastest woman in history.

“Ayana is a front runner and most likely I should use her as pacesetter in the final,” said Obiri, the 2012 World 3,000m Indoor champion and 2014 World Indoor 3,000m silver medallist.

Ayana and Dibaba are two of the four women who stand above Obiri on the world all-time list, boasting PBs of 14:12.59 and 14:15.41 respectively.

But Ayana will be heading into the World Championships having not raced at all this year, while Dibaba was soundly beaten by Obiri in Rome.

Teferi, the world silver medallist, could in fact be Ethiopia’s best bet of a medal in this event.

British hope Laura Muir will be attempting the same double after she flopped in 1,500m final.