After staying in the shadows of their male counterparts for a long time, the women finally struck, posting their maiden Olympic victories at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Pamela Jelimo and Jebet Lagat won the 800 metres and 1,500m titles with Janeth Jepkosgei (800m), Catherine Ndereba (marathon) and Eunice Jepkorir (steeplechase) contributing to Kenya’s best ever Olympic medal haul of six gold, four silver and four bronze medals.
Saturday is the day of reckoning as high drama and great rivalry take centre stage with some of the world’s creme de la creme facing off in the national trials at Nyayo National Stadium.
One cannot wait to see how the 5,000m contest will unfold, with double World champion Vivian Cheruiyot and World 10,000 silver medallist Sally Kipyego clashing again.
Having tucked the 10,000m ticket into her belt last weekend, it is left to be known whether Cheruiyot, the World 10,000m and 5,000m champion, will once again strut to 5,000m victory.
Africa champion Cheruiyot, who has a personal best 14:20.87, boasts the leading time over the distance this season, 14:35.62 attained in Roma on May 31. Kipyego’s winning 14:43.11 at Palo Alto, California, is ranked fifth.
Kipyego (PB 13:30.42) said her ultimate goal is to double at the Olympics: “It will be a sight to behold if Vivian and I would double.”
Signalled return to form
Also vying for the ticket are two-time World Cross Country Junior winner Viola Kibiwot (14:34.86) and 2009 World 10,000m champion Linet Masai (13:31.14), who is seeking a second chance after withdrawing from the 10,000m trials at Nyayo stadium with stomach problems.
The 2007 Osaka Worlds 5,000 bronze medallist, Prisca Jepleting, and 2008/2010 World Junior 3,000m champion Mercy Cherono (13:35.14), are also in the fray.
Jelimo (1:54.01), who signalled her return to form with a dominant World Indoor victory in Instanbul on March 11 and enjoying a 1:56.94 season best time from Doha, renews her rivalry with Jepkosgei, who won in Hengelo in a fifth season best 1:57.79.
Also dotting the line-up are rising stars Cherono Koech (1:59.7) and Winnie Chebet (2:02.2).
Jepkosgei will also double in 1,500m where she has a battle at hand against Olympic champion Jebet Lagat, who has been struggling over the year, and Hellen Obiri, the 3,000m World Indoor champion.