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Vivian showed that nothing will stop a woman when she means business

Monday August 24 2015

Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot celebrates winning the final of the women's 10,000 metres athletics event at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at the

Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot celebrates winning the final of the women's 10,000 metres athletics event at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing on August 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS 

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What a welcome sabbatical from the thiefocracy we can enjoy by turning our attentions to the World Athletics Championships in Beijing.

On Monday, the peerless Ezekiel Kemboi again delivered when it mattered, running away with the expected gold in the 3,000 metres and leading a Kenyan clean sweep.

In yet another season when it seemed the old master was finally being upstaged by youthful compatriots, Kemboi turned on the after-burners at the bell to relegate fierce younger rival Conseslus Kipruto to silver, while another storeyed old warhorse, Brimin Kipruto, came back to cap a great swansong with the bronze.

The hottest steeplechaser over the past two seasons, youngster Jairus Birech, was at the tail end of the Kenyan sweep, out of the medals in fourth place.

Maybe we can say at the outset that steeplechase is a Kenyan specialty and the story would have been in failing to dominate the podium.

Therefore, perhaps the story from Beijing yesterday was another great comeback story. Vivian Cheruiyot has won almost every honour in a long and illustrious career since she first donned Kenyan colours in 1998.


She has won multiple honours at the World Athletics Championships, World Cross Country Championships, Commonwealth and Africa Games.

She qualified for Beijing after a considerable period out to have and nurse a baby, and at that at the age of 32 she is still in competitive running, is a rarity for Kenyan athletes, especially women, who tend to start young and burn out early.

When the ‘Pocket Rocket’ obliterated the field in the last bend to take the 10,000 gold, she completed a fairy-tale comeback that will be the stuff of legend.

Cheruiyot now stands as an example for all Kenyan women that maturity, motherhood and family obligations should be no barriers to all fields of human endeavour.

Whether on the athletics track, the classroom, the corporate boardroom, or the political arena, Kenyan women have too often failed to realise their true potential.

They have held themselves back because they allowed a jealous and insecure patriarchal society to define their boundaries and limits.

It is of course easy to say that women have been victims of a male-dominated society that has exploited traditional beliefs and customs to keep them down.
But at the end of the day, no group has ever come out of subjugation and repression by remaining meek and refusing to claim its rightful place in the sun.

No group has ever won its freedoms and liberties by appealing to the oppressor for favours.


It is also instructive that rights are won not just through petitions, statements and noisy activism, but much more effectively by just going out there and doing it. That is what Vivian Cheruiyot has done.

By going to Beijing and emerging victorious, she showed that motherhood and matrimonial duties should not be used as an excuse to tie a good woman down.

She bucked the traditions and conventions that too often relegate Kenyan women to second-class citizenship. She joins the great Kenyan women who have defied male-imposed conventions and barriers to excel in their chosen fields.

The diminutive “Pocket Rocket” should stand out as a role model for all young Kenyans out to make their mark in the world.

This is the week for all of us to turn our eyes away from the thieving, opportunist, divisive, ethnic chieftains that populate the political classes, and cast our eyes towards Beijing where we shall see the real Kenyan success stories.

We will learn that in the search for success, there is no substitute for focus, hard work, determination, and dedicated pursuit of excellence.

Vivian Cheruiyot did not take a short-cut across the track to win her gold. She did not trip or bump-off a rival. She did not run a lap less that anybody else.

She simply went out there and did better than anybody else. Those 31 minutes, 41.31 seconds that it took were not achieved within that half hour or so.

That was the outcome of months of dedicated preparation, with hundreds of kilometres covered in training and competition. Victory does not come without blood, sweat and tears.

Twitter: @MachariaGaitho