Kenya's Cheruiyot eyes marathon glory after winning 5,000m gold in Rio

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Nairobi, Aug 23: Mulling over her debut in marathon, Olympic 5,000 metre champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya will be happy to pick up the gauntlet in Newcastle next month.

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The 34-year-old arrived here on Monday (Aug 22) and confirmed her mission will change from track competition to marathon. She has pencilled the Newcastle half-marathon next month as her launchpad, reports Xinhua.

Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot, right, celebrates winning the gold medal and setting a new Olympic record in the women's 5000-meter final with silver medalist Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"It has been my dream and everyone knew that I was planning to switch to the ultimate distance. It has been a successful journey for me in the track and I know I will adjust comfortably to marathon," she said.

Cheruiyot, who is also the world champion in 10,000m, formed the third batch of athletes coming back from Rio where Kenya claimed six gold, six silver and one bronze medals.

Cheruiyot contributed the gold in the 5,000m race and the silver in the 10,000m.

Cheruiyot, who had won everything on the track except the Olympic gold, was making her fourth appearance in the Games after Sydney (2000), Beijing (2008) and London (2012).

It is a feat very few athletes have been able to attain so far. She made history as the first Kenyan woman to win the 5,000m Olympic title in an Olympic record time of 14:26.17.

Pauline Konga (1968) and Isabella Ochichi (2004) are the only other Kenyans to have won medals in the event at the Olympic stage, both got silver medals.

But Cheruiyot had a message to the coaches as she exits the track disciplines.

"They need to come up with better strategy, plan and focus on how to counter the challenge. It will get tougher by the day, but Kenya has always a new talent coming, who can fill up the void.

"There is also the challenge of other countries preying on our athletes when they are still young; I hope the coaches will seek away to stop it. We need our best talent here to carry the national flag at international competitions," she said.

After losing the 10,000m battle to Ethiopian Alamaz Ayana, who set a new world record of 29:17.45 on August 12, Cheruiyot got her revenge in 5,000m, obliterating the Ethiopian world 5,000m champion. Another Kenyan Hellen Obiri settled for silver in 14:29.77 with Ayana taking the bronze in 14:33.59.

"I have been patient and the results are good. As I bow out, I have my head held high. I need a new challenge and I believe it will be good to move to marathon.

"But I may still run the 10,000m race at the London 2017, but that depends on my transition. The marathon race in London would be appealing," she added.

For the time being, a good rest with her son will be enough as she reflects on the challenge ahead.

IANS

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