Could greenhorn Eva Cherono be Kenya’s secret weapon at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games?
The diminutive athlete is gearing up for women’s 5,000 metres competition, having only started competing in the race this year. But she isn’t worried about the strong team comprising World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri and African Games 5,000m Margaret Chelimo. She sees the strong field as an inspiration to work hard to deliver gold medal.
“What will worry me is if we make a horrible mistake to let the title slip away from Kenya,” the 22-year-old said from Kericho where she trains.
Kenyan women have had a choking hold on the 5,000m title since Paula Radcliffe won it in 2002 in Manchester. Kenyans have won the title in 2006 (Melbourne) through Isabella Ochichi, 2010 (Delhi) via Vivian Cheruiyot, and in 2014 (Glasgow) through Mercy Cherono.
“We have a strong team and I’m the darkhorse, but that doesn’t scare me,” said Cherono, who was inspired by her mentor Vivian Cheruiyot, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games 5,000m gold medallist, to take up the 5,000m race. “I believe great team work will deliver victory for us.”
The 2013 Africa Youth 1,500m silver medallist says she has trained well and is hoping for a medal on her debut in the senior category for Kenya.
“You go to a battle hoping for victory but I will appreciate any medal at this point. Obiri and Chelimo are favourite but they should brace up for a good battle,” said Cherono, who decided to move up to 5,00m after her body failed to cope up with the speed in 1,500m.
Cherono said her rise to senior level was slowed down by a crack on the frame of her right leg in 2016 that took time to heal.
“I have recovered and picked up well on time for my debut at the Commonwealth Games,” says Cherono, who was lured to the world of athletics by her uncle Johnstone Simotwo, who is a middle distance runner in 2012.