Hundreds of people turned up for the grand homecoming ceremony of World double gold medallist Vivian Cheruiyot in Eldoret on Wednesday.
At hand to receive the queen of distance running back from South Korea were family members, relatives, top athletes and a senior colleague from Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer, Patrick Ndunda.
And at the official reception at the Mayor’s Parlour, Eldoret Mayor William Rono announced that the municipality will name one of the town’s streets in honour of the 5,000m and 10,000m winner in Daegu.
Rekindled glorious memories
On its way to Eldoret Town from Flax Trading Centre, a few kilometres from the athlete’s rural home in Keiyo South, the convoy was mobbed by mammoth crowds along the Kaptagat-Eldoret road and police had a hard time controlling traffic along the busy highway.
The garlanded stars were met with blaring brass and crushing cymbals in Eldoret.
World 5,000m silver medallist Sylvia Kibet, former World champion Violah Kibiwott and Olympic 1,500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat ljoined the entourage, as did Commonwealth marathon winner Irene Jerotich, who competed in the 42km race.
Vivian’s mother Angelina and father William Cheruiyot rubbed her with the ornamental plant sinendet that is used to bless heroes from the Kalenjin community.
Mama Angelina then led the mursik (sour milk)-drinking fanfare that usually greets their returning world beaters.
Vivian, only the second female athlete to have struck a Worlds double after Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba in Helsinki in 2005, said she was grateful to have ruled the world’s track and cross country running this season.
“It was a great feat that few have accomplished,” the third-born in a family of eight said. “I am happy it gave Kenyans a sigh of relief after heartbreaks caused by the Ethiopians.”
Revealing a plan to do a double at next year’s London Olympics, the World Cross Country winner in Spain in March added she expects a new crop of athletes to emulate her.
A beaming husband Sammy Kirui Kiplagat said: “I feel great, honoured and humbled by her showing. I knew she could run well in 10,000m but feared she would not perform in 5,000m because of fatigue.”
London Marathon winner Mary Keitany, former World 5,000m champion Benjamin Limo and road racer Maureen Kipchumba were among a host of elite athletes at the ceremony.
The presence of Vivian, Violah and Sylvia in Keiyo rekindled glorious memories of their homecoming when, as students at Sing’ore Girls Secondary, they rocked the world after battling with Nancy, then studying at the neighbouring Kapkenda Girls.