Mercy Cherono is still baffled at how she became a worldwide trend on the ‘Golden Saturday’ during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The fish lover and gospel music girl found time to open her world to EVELYNE MUSAMBI about everything athletics and fashion.
BUZZ: How does it feel to have triggered the discussion that athletes too can look good?
I feel honoured, although, as I went for the competitions and packed my makeup kit, it was just an ordinary me who likes to look good always. I like the discussion that has come up since my appearance at the Commonwealth Games, at least Kenyan fans have more to appreciate about us athletes.
Tell us about the ‘Golden Saturday’, how did you achieve the look you had and how long did it take you to apply your make up?
I refreshed after the race, put on my foundation and pressed powder then I used eye pencil on my eye line and finished off with a lip balm. It took me about ten minutes to apply my make up as I did not have much to do on my face. I have an even tone that often does not require a concealer so with a foundation and powder only, it takes lesser time to achieve a flawless look.
What products would you never miss in your bag even while on an impromptu trip?
My foundation and lip balm. Those are my must have products because I love taking care of my face and lips. I do not like lip stick as am not a fan of bold colors and I feel that lip balm gives me the best in terms of keeping my lips mosturised and natural.
Tell us about your family background and if there other athletes in the family.
I am the first born in a family of seven; two sisters and four brothers. We were raised by our parents, John and Emily Koech in Kipajit Village, Sotik, Bomet County. We are a Christian family where during hard times as we grew up, we prayed for God’s provision and He has been a strong pillar in our family. My younger sister Sharon Chepkorir is in form two and is an upcoming athlete. She performs well during interschool athletics competition and has an interest in joining the national team after her secondary education.
How did your athletics journey begin? And what motivated you to represent the country in athletics?
I used to run back in high school during my days at Ngariet Secondary School. After completing my education I started hanging out with renowned athletes like Janeth Jepkosgei who motivated me to join the national team. My coach Claudio Barardelli has also been a pillar during my training sessions and has been a part of my career from the time I took part in the Youth Olympics.
During the off season what do you do for fun?
I love travelling to the United States and Dubai for holiday. I also do a lot of shopping abroad during my holiday trips thus the wide range of shoes and clothes I have in my closet.
Speaking of shoes and clothes, who are you favourite international designers?
I randomly choose fashion items depending on what entices me. For shoes I do both high and flat heels depending on the occasion. I however do not have even a single pair of stilettos as I prefer heels that are four inches and below.
What are your other favourite fashion items?
I am a lover of African fashion, actually I determine most of my dresses and skirts. I have two designers in Nairobi, Ruth Wanjiku and Clare Chepkirui who make my dresses and skirts.
Where do you hang out when off season and what is your favourite music genre?
I like eating out at Nairobi Serena Hotel, they have a restaurant that serves my favourite cuisine, that is Italian. My first love is however Kenyan foods with fish being my favourite. When it comes to music, I am a gospel music girl. I love gospel songs and my all-time favourite is Lillian Cherotich.
Who is the special man in your life who accompanies you to Serena and other posh places?
Did you have to ask that? Anyway, for now I am focusing on my career then later the social aspect of relationships.
There has been a rumour about a certain guy whom you have taken several photos with and posted on both his and your social media pages. Who is he?
Jodan Guenther is just a good friend. He is actually a mutual friend for most Kenyan athletes and a great fan too.
Has the Kalenjin ‘Mursik’ had any impact in your beauty as it has previously been lauded for great skin complexion?
Mursik is very healthy and we as Kalenjin’s believe it helps maintain a smooth skin. It is likely to have contributed to my great skin but I also eat healthy foods. I also take a lot of water and run about 20 km a day for exercise and training.
Why do you think other Kenyan female athletes avoid make-up in their day-to-day life?
It is a lack of exposure where most of us are bound by our cultures and feel we should not use any products to enhance our looks. Most Kenyan athletes have this mentality that make-up is meant for women who do not appreciate their looks and that it’s a Western thing that Africans should not embrace. The perception is slowly changing thanks to the exposure of flying out of the country and experiencing different cultures.
What should your fans look out for except the exemplary performance on track?
I hope to start a program where I will inspire, train and mentor young girls who are hoping to become international athletes to prepare them for this career. It is a way of giving back to my community and to ensure no girl is locked out of the athlete career due to lack of exposure and mentorship.