Beijing Medal Comeback the Aim for Cheruiyot

Beijing Medal Comeback the Aim for Cheruiyot


Four years have passed since Vivian Cheruiyot stormed to double world glory in Deagu, South Korea and now – having returned from maternity leave with a bang – the diminutive Kenyan star has her eye on the ultimate comeback prize – winning a medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing later this month.

The 31-year-old bypassed the defence of her 5,000m and 10,000m global titles in Moscow two years ago to give birth to a son, Allan Kiprono, in October 2013, subsequently commencing the 2015 season by making only her second competitive appearance in 28 months.

Having returned to training in June 2014, Cheruiyot and her husband and coach, Moses Kiplagat made the decision to skip March’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China and instead focus their attention on making the national team for the longer event in Beijing.

The Olympic bronze medallist duly smashed her target with flying colours last weekend, claiming the trial race in 32:58 from 2013 NCAA 10,000m champion, Betsy Saina who was a second adrift:

“My training has been going well and I was confident that I would make the team,” Cheruiyot revealed.

“The pace was slow, which suited me perfectly as I normally have a good finishing kick and it was a very hot day in Nairobi – I was very comfortable throughout the race.”

The 2009 world 5,000m gold medallist will be seeking her sixth world senior medal on the track a fortnight from now and despite her long absence from major championship racing, Cheruiyot is in confident mood:

“I feel I am ready to reclaim my title – I think it is possible to win in Beijing if all goes well in training between now and then because I am training well and my shape is improving every day,” she explained.

“Kenya has a strong team with me, Betsy Saina and Sally Kipyego (the Olympic 10,000m silver medallist) – we will try our best to take all the medals but we know the competition will be tough.”

Easing Back

The Olympic 5,000m silver medallist’s reappearance in the sport this season has been highly successful, with three top-10 world times under her belt so it is little wonder her belief is strong coming into Beijing.

The 5ft-tall ‘pocket rocket’ sped to a 14:46.69 5,000m for third place at the IAAF Diamond League in Eugene on her debut track race in three years in May, clocked 8:39.75 in Rabat in June and registered a 31:13.29 10,000m in Brussels last month to rank ninth, sixth and tenth, respectively on the global rankings for 2015.

Add to that an impressive 4:09.88 to claim the Kenyan 1500m title four weeks ago and the future looks promising for the 2011 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.

“I was happy with my performances in Eugene and Rabat. – I was using these races to ease myself back into competition so I started slowly and worked my way through the field,” Cheruiyot recalled.

Enjoying Motherhood

Based in the Rift Valley province of Eldoret, the Commonwealth 5,000m record holder – with 14:20.89 for fifth on the world all-time ranking list – appears to be excelling in her task to juggle motherhood and her athletic career:

“I have really enjoyed motherhood – Allan is a very happy healthy boy, he is full of energy and loves being outdoors playing and running around,” explained Cheruiyot.

“I am very fortunate to have my husband, who helps a lot and makes it easier for me to focus on training.”

Admitting that the decision to start a family originated from her disappointment to miss out on Olympic gold in London three years ago, she continued:

“In 2012, I had an early-season Achilles injury, which meant I missed a lot of training and then I got the flu when I came to London.

“I sat down with my husband and manager and we made a plan to have a baby and then be back at full fitness in time for the 2016 Olympic Games.”

On her return to training with the longer term plan in mind, Cheruiyot added:

“I purposely took my time with my build up, increasing my mileage very gradually and allowing my body to adapt.

“I started with long slow runs to lose weight – I gained 15kgs during my pregnancy and first, I had to reduce my weight before introducing tempo runs, hill work and track sessions. I am now back to my normal training regime.”

Having taken advice from other world-class running mothers such as Mary Keitany, the 2009 IAAF world half marathon champion, Cheruiyot revealed:

“It was good to get back to racing in January but I was aware that I wasn’t at full fitness so I was just using it to gauge where I was at in my training.

“I did miss competing but I really enjoyed starting a family and enjoying spending time with my son.”

Preparing for Rio

Following Beijing, the Commonwealth 5,000m champion has her sights firmly set on winning the Olympic gold medal that has so far eluded her at the Olympic Games in Rio next summer:

“After the IAAF World Championships, I will do a few track races, have a short break and then focus on road and cross country to prepare for 2016,” explained Cheruiyot.

“I don’t have an Olympic gold medal and this is the thing that drives me every day.

“I have not yet decided about doubling in Rio, it will depend on my fitness at the time. I expect 2016 to be my last championship on the track.

“After that, I will focus on road races. London (the venue of the 2017 IAAF World Championships) is like my second home so it would be nice to run the marathon there.”

Evidently back with vengeance, it is clear Cheruiyot is keen to weave herself back into the world athletics tapestry in China, Brazil, Great Britain and beyond – and all with her new family beside her.


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