Kenya’s Olympic 10k bronze medallist Cheruiyot eyes world title

Nairobi, July 31 (IANS) Olympic 10,000 metres bronze medallist Vivian Cheruiyot and Betsy Saina secured automatic selections in the Kenya team as the national trials, which kicked off on Friday, lived up to their billing as the most unpredictable.

“I am really happy,” Xinhua quoted Cheruiyot as saying. “It was hot here and I expect the weather in Beijing to be equally hot so I am comfortable to run under such conditions. It prepares me for the next challenge,” she added.

Only the top two athletes have the automatic right to make the team while the third placed and any other athlete will have to wait for the coaches’ wild card, which will consider their finishing position.

“I am happy with the team that has made it,” said head coach Julius Kirwa. “As you see we have the best two athletes and we will pick another one after our consultations.”

However, there will be no place for Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres champion Joyce Chepkirui, despite her finishing third in the race held in Nairobi.

Olympic silver medallist Sally Kipyego, former world champion Linet Masai, and former world cross country champion Emily Chebet were among the other top names who failed the test and had to drop out of the race.

Others were Gladys Cherono, bronze medallist at the Commonwealth Games, Grace Mbithe Kimanzi, Lucy Cheruiyot and Selly Kaptich.

Chepkirui, however, will have to bear with the agony of not making the team because she did not get the required time of 32:00.00 minutes.

In Friday’s race, Chepkirui, who exchanged the lead with world cross country champion Agnes Tirop, clocked 33:00.1 minutes, which is 61 seconds off the required mark. Cheruiyot claimed the ticket with victory winning in 32:58.4 minutes ahead of Betsy Saina, who clocked 32:59.2 minutes.

Cheruiyot was the last athlete to win Kenya gold in the event in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea before Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia claimed it in Moscow.

But with the Ethiopian out of competition and in motherhood, Cheruiyot stands out as the favourite to reclaim the gold in Beijing.

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