Kenya/Ethiopia: Cheruiyot versus Dibaba
June 27, 2012, Nairobi (All Africa) — Double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot has dared Ethiopian record holder, Tirunesh Dibaba, for a showdown in London having effortlessly booked her place in the Kenyan Olympics team for 5000m and 10000m.
Tirunesh, the double winner at the Olympics four years ago represents the biggest hurdle for the Kenyan distance running princess aspirations to emulate her Beijing achievement having successfully bagged both gold medals in Daegu last year.
“At the long run, we are going to compete together. It does not worry me at all, I’m strong myself. It will reach that time, I’m so happy because this time, we are going to race with Dibaba.
“It’s been a long time racing with Dibaba and I’m very happy that I want to race with Dibaba so that I can have the morale,” Cheruiyot said on the sidelines of her victory in the women 5000m Kenyan Trial.
The double world champion is keen to erase the only blot on her brilliant CV when she takes the famed ‘Pocket Rocket’ to the London Olympics Stadium.
“I need that gold badly, it’s the only medal I do not have in my athletics career, I want it badly and in my heart, I know I will do my best,” she declared.
“This year, I think it is possible since the training has gone well. When someone decides she wants to double, she must be sure she will go and do something good. You cannot say I’m going you do not know you are fit or not fit.
“I hope I will do the same thing I did last year,” Cheruiyot, the Laureus Sports Woman of the Year added.
She conceded that her performances in the early season had been hampered by slight injury as she managed to hold off her other Ethiopian threat, Meseret Defar at the Samsung Diamond League circuit.
“When I was running in Rome and Doha, I was having a slight injury so to kick was a little difficult but those ladies cannot worry me a lot,” Cheruiyot stressed.
She reckons her best is yet to be seen in the run up to the Olympics as Cheruiyot told of what it takes to launch a successful double assault at a major event.
“You cannot express everything but I know you will see it when it comes to the main event. It does not take a lot of effort, just to balance between 5000m and 10000m in training since there is no much difference,” the African and Commonwealth 5000m champion added.
While she has had the measure of Meseret, the former 5000m world champion in recent times, Tirunesh who missed last season due to injury represents a different kettle of fish for Cheruiyot.
In their 17 career meetings stretching from their first clash at the 2001 World Cross in Oostead, Cheruiyot has only ever finished ahead of the Ethiopian ‘Baby faced Destroyer’ on two occasions, at their first showdown and at the 2004 Fukuoka World Cross where Tirunesh registered DNF.
Their most recent meeting came at the Aviva London Grand Prix in 2010 where the double world record holder forced Cheruiyot to accept runner-up in 14:38.17 against 14:36.41 for the winner that was a world lead on August 13.
Since her return to action at the beginning of the season, Tirunesh has strung four victories with her winning performance at the Pre Fontaine Classic on June 3 of 30:24.39 accounting for the world lead over 10000m.
The Kenyan tops the charts in the shorter 5000m with her 14:35.62 victory at the Rome Golden Gala (31 May) with the pair sharing the honours when they last competed at the same event, the 2010 African Championships in Nairobi where Cheruiyot won the 12 and a half-lap race gold with Tirunesh scooping the 10000m.
Their showdown in London could produce a distance running epic that has the potential of entering the annals of history.