Kenyan quartet glad to be peaking at the right time

Aug 26, 2011

The Daegu stadium is set for an epic showdown on Saturday, the opening moments of the nine-day World Athletics Championships the women's 10 000m.

This will be one of the two finals coming after the early morning Women's marathon. No sub 30 minutes yet this season but the Kenyan team led by Vivian Cheruiyot - whose progression in the long distance races has been impressive, the defending champion Linet Masai, joined by Priscah Jepleting - returning to the global event since her debut in Helsinki in 2005 and Sally Kipyego - the new kid on the block and are all set to spice up the race in their bid for World honours over the distance for the second year in a row.

They will be facing a bruised Ethiopian trio, eyeing Daegu revenge and heading in the unfamiliar situation of seeking lost glory after defeats in Berlin that shattered their dominance in women's long distance running.

But not even the experienced Meseret Defar who is looking for something special at her fifth World Athletics event, the fastest woman of the field of 19 this season Meselech Melkamu or Tigit Kiros can intimidate the Kenyans! Coincidentally, Cheruyoit's inspiration to double at the world championships possibly follows the success of Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba on her first attempt in 2005.

"When you are doubling everyone hopes to get a medal in the first event," said the petite runner who will be looking to her fast and dependable steps to derail her rivals . Her rivals include teammate Masai who will also be lining up in the 5000m category.

“I don't feel any pressure. I have built up my form over the years combining experience and fitness. I know am in a good shape.My focus is on the track I don't fear anybody...let them come.”

Her form could carry her through what could be  a historical feat by a Kenyan woman in long distance running. But this is one of the events that could go any one’s way.

Even Kipyego, the US-based runner whose time of 30:38.35 is the fastest this season may walk away with the gold.

" I am the underdog, and no one is really taking me as a big threat. But it is a great place to be and I love it and will give it my best" reckoned the pleasant nursing student from Oregon.

"It’s a great position as a lot of people don't know me and therefore I should not be a threat. Supposedly for me, it’s just to blend in and go with it," she explained in her deep American accent and a smile that betrayed her raging intent to join the annals of women's long distance running.

The Africans will however have to contend with a similarly seasoned American duo of Shalane Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and Kara Goucher a bronze medalist from Osaka as well as a strong Asian line up led by Japan’s Japanese Kayo Sugihara.

Blend the experience, rivalry and the fresh challenge the race will definitely be the perfect ingredient needed to bring out the captivating smell of what promises to be another tantalizing championships.


 Evelyn Watta in Daegu

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