Vivian Cheruiyot, photo by PhotoRun.net
Vivian Cheruiyot is the Kenyan Pocket Rocket, in my mind. Winning her first medal as a Youth in 1999, over the 3000 meters, taking the bronze in 9:04.42, Vivian Cheruiyot has competed in every major champs since 2000, where she was 14th in the 5000 meters! Her gold in Beijing 2015 in the 10,000m last year gave her hopes for 2016. In London 2012, Vivian was silver in the 5000 meters and bronze in the 10,000 meters.
Vivian Cheruiyot is fun to interview. She is talkative, for a Kenyan women athlete, and also is quite focused. Her silver medal, in a Kenyan National record performance of 29:32.53 today, could have many superlatives worthy of the description. I call her gutty. She pushed Almaz Ayana as long as she could, as much as she could. I equate Vivian Cheruiyot to the Robert De Niro character in Raging Bull, called Jake LaMota. Ayana pushed and Cheruiyot gutted out another lap.
What a race to behold!
Here is Justin Lagat’s fine piece on the performance of Kenya’s pocket rocket, Vivian Cheruiyot!
Silver medal for Vivian Cheruiyot as Almaz Ayana runs a world record to win the women’s 10,000m in Rio, by Justin Lagat
When more than one athlete wants to win the Olympic gold medal as much as the other and the race starts out fast, history is made. Vivian Cheruiyot has gold medals from all the other major championships and her dream has been to win an Olympic gold medal before she retires from track running. But, she was not the only one who was yearning for a gold medal that much today.
Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana treated Olympic fans to an amazing run on the first day of athletic events in Rio when she ran 29:17.45 to set a new world record, breaking the old one that had lasted since 1993, in the women 10,000m to win the gold medal in her second race over the distance.
Credit should go out to Kenya’s Alice Aprot who set a fast pace from the beginning of the race in which she took the field through the first kilometer in 3:01, two in 5:55, three in 8:52, four in 11:49 and five in 14:46. Ayana took over from five kilometers and began to set an even faster pace that saw the rest of the athletes lose ground on her as she began to run a solid run at the front. For a moment, Vivian Cheruiyot seemed to remain at some striking distance from her, but then appeared to give up the chase and concentrate on the silver medal.
Vivian Cheruiyot, photo by PhotoRun.net
The competition that remained in the later stages of the race was between Alice Aprot and Tirunesh Dibaba for the bronze medal that eventually went to Dibaba.
Just to try and grasp the magnitude of what Ayana did in this race, she led the two athletes who have dominated this event in almost the past ten years to record their personal best times here. Cheruiyot ran 29:32.53 to win the silver medal and set a new national record for Kenya while Dibaba, famously referred to as the “baby faced destroyer”, ran her personal best time of 29:42.56!
All the top seven athletes in the race recorded their personal best times. Aprot finished fourth in 29:53.51 as fellow Kenyan; Betsy Saina came fifth in 30:07.78. USA’s Molly Huddle set her nation’s record in sixth place with 30:13.17.
In a day with much anticipation to the beginning of athletics in Rio, Kenyans had woken up to some rather disturbing and quite amusing news of a Kenyan coach caught in a situation that captured the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Allegedly, the coach used his athlete’s pass to get to the dining hall in order to get a meal, but then some doping control officers found him and took him to give out his samples for testing. Not wanting to reveal himself that he was not the athlete, he decided to give out his urine! Fortunately, the athlete learned of it in time and went to give out his blood and urine samples before they could test that of his coach.
But at the end of the day, Kenya has won her first silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games in an historical 10,000m race as all the three runners in the men’s 800m team; David Rudisha, Alfred Kirwa and Ferguson Rotich advance to the semi-finals.