|by Toni Reavis|
Nairobi, Kenya - The Kenyan "Pocket Rocket" Vivian Cheruiyot burned through a sixty second final lap today at Kasarani Stadium to claim the Kenyan National 10,000 meter title (32:24.51) over a determined Joyce Chepkirui (32:24.52) and third-placer Sally Kipyego (32:26.82). The times were modest, but as Vivian said afterwards, "this race was for position, not time." True enough, the three will now represent their country in London's Olympic Games, as this was the lone Olympic Trials race of the two-day national championships.
In a race that featured an Olympic final caliber collection of talent, the pace dawdled over the initial two-thirds of the 25 laps, taking the 15-person lead pack nearly 17minutes to a pass half-way. Finally, with seven laps remaining and a pack of nine still in contention, 2009 World Champion Linet Masai took the reins before stepping off the track with 3 ½ laps remaining (no evident cause was seen or given).
After Masai pulled off on the backstretch, road race star Joyce Chepkirui stepped into the driver's seat with double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot tucking closely in behind followed by 2011 Berlin Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat, Sally Kipyego the former Texas Tech Red Raider, and Priscah Jeplateng, fourth in the Daegu World Champs.
For the next two laps the positions held as the small but boisterous crowd scattered along the lower sections of the massive Kasarani Stadium implored their favorites. When the bell clanged, the tiny tempest that is Vivian Cheruiyot burst to the lead with Chepkirui in her slipstream holding fast. Kipyego gave ground grudgingly while Florence Kiplagat, the Kenyan national record holder at 30:11, and Priscah Jeplateng began seeing their Olympic dreams escape from view. Kiplagat had come in off a close second place to Ethiopian Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on June 4. Perhaps that 30:24 effort had its effect in Nairobi today.
Vivian Cheruiyot admitted that she had been suffering with a slight ankle irritation before the race, and aggravated it a little during the competition. Directly after the meet she took off for a physio session, but when it was time for the gas, the throttle never stalled. Read more of this post