Double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot warded off a surprise assault from Joyce Chepkirui to win the national 10,000 metres title before fancying a dream double at the London Olympic Games.
“I am definitely going for a double at the Summer Olympics,” Inspector Cheruiyot (running for Kenya Police’s Criminal Investigation Department) said after winning the slow race in 32 minutes and 24.52 seconds at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Chepkirui (Administration Police) menacingly charged at Cheruiyot, who had blasted to the lead at the bell to almost catching her up at 200 metre.
This is when the crowd witnessed Cheruiyot’s powerful kick for the first time as the world 10,000m and 5,000m titleholder summoned her sprightly legs to victory.
An elated Chepkirui settled for second in 32:24.71, beating United States-based World 10,000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego to third (32:26.82) in a race that started to a slow pace with a pack of 10 athletes hurdled together with six laps to go.
With four laps to go, Chepkirui took the initiative to set the pace going into the last round.
The 2009 World champion Linet Masai withdrew with 10 laps on card hence blowing her Olympic Games dream.
Cheruiyot said she expected a slow race it being a championship event where the country’s top five, herself, Chepkirui, Masai, Prisca Jepleting and Berlin Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat in action.
“I was comfortable with the slow pace considering these circumstances but it’s until I saw Chepkirui charging that I new I had a battle at hand,” said Cheruiyot, who had a slight twist forcing her to seek medical attention.
“It’s nothing serious. I just stepped on something on the track and I wanted to be sure.”
Cheruiyot, who will field in 5,000m race at next Saturday’s Olympic trials, is certain of a podium sweep in London but on if they train as a team and work hard on individual speed and skills.
Interesting enough, Chepkirui, who finished second in 1,500m at last year’s nationals, dedicated her surprise second position to Cheruiyot.
“She is my role model and I am glad to team up with her in London alongside Kipyego,” said Chepkirui.
Kipyego, who will pitch her camp in Kenya said there ultimate goal is to win the title for Kenya.
“The next six weeks will be crucial for us but we shall try to the best of our abilities and bring the medals to Kenya,” said Kipyego.
At one moment, tension and anxiety prevailed after AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat announced that a selection panel would decide, who goes to Olympics in the 10,000m, contradicting the early selection of the first three athletes a cross the line.
AK named a squad of 47 athletes after the nationals for the Africa Senior Athletics Championships due June 26 to July 1 in Benin.
Jepleting, who finished fifth (32:38.29) followed by Betsy Saina (32:46.81) and Margaret Akai (32:47.67) will now represent the country at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships due for Benin.
Florence Kiplagat, who finished fourth is on stand-by in the women’s marathon team for London games.
There were no major surprises as the World Indoor 3,000m champion Hellen Obiri won the 1,500m title in 4:07.4 after seeing off Africa Cross silver medallist Margaret Wangare 4:09.0 and Mary Kuria 4:11.0.
2011 All Africa Games and 2010 World Junior 1,500m champion Caleb Mwangangi won his speciality in 3:33.85.
Joyce Zakari retained her national 400m title in 52.10, brushing aside World Indoor and Olympic 800m