Continued from: Top 10 African Performers at the Rio Olympics (Part 2)
4. VIVIAN CHERUIYOT
It’s been almost two weeks since the Rio 2016 Games ended, but Kenyan middle distance runner, Vivian Cheruiyot will still be relishing her laudable feat at her fourth Olympic Games outing where she stunned tournament favourite and World Leader (WL) Almaz Ayana to win the women’s 5000m with an Olympic Record (OR) of 14:26.17, an upgrade from the Silver medal she won in London four years ago.
The two time World Champion over the 5000m/10,000m competed in both events in Rio just like she did in London 2012, finishing 2nd to Ayana in the historic 10,000m on Day 1 of Track and Field where the Ethiopian smashed the World Record (WR). Cheruiyot set a Personal Best (PB) of 29:32.53 to win Silver, improving on the Bronze medal she won in the event in London.
The stage was set for the 5000m final, with many expecting the ‘Ethiopian Machine’ Ayana to erase Tirunesh Dibaba’s WR of 14:11.15. The race kicked off and Ayana maintained the 2nd spot, patiently waiting for the right time to unleash all that she had within. She charged forward with eight laps to go, overtaking Hellen Obiri who had been in the lead until then.
However, her pace became slower with about four laps to go, and Cheruiyot raced past with about three laps left, after realizing that Ayana could not extend her lead, as it was evident that the 5000m World Champion was struggling, and was yet to recover from her grueling 10,000m race. Obiri followed her teammate who raced to an OR of 14:26.17, becoming Kenya’s first ever Olympic GOLD medallist in the women’s 5000m. Ayana settled for Bronze.
Cheruiyot is the most decorated woman in distance track racing within the last 10 years. On a lighter note, many fans attributed her victory to the handshake she received from Usain Bolt at the warm up area, prior to her race. But with the Olympic GOLD medal firmly under her belt, Cheruiyot is set to conquer new territories as she makes her Half Marathon debut at the Great North Run in September.
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