Cheruiyot’s retirement exposes Kenya at World athletics

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Nairobi, Aug 2 (IANS) The retirement of Vivian Cheruiyot in the women’s 10,000-metre race leaves it open for anyone to make a rush for the gold medal during the World Championships, which kicks off in London on Thursday.

Cheruiyot, who is the world champion, has moved up to the marathon and Kenya is fielding something of a new look team, reports Xinhua news agency.

The trio includes world cross-country champion Irene Cheptai and the predecessor to that title Agnes Tirop, who won the Kenyan Trials.

The only returning member of the Kenyan trio from the Rio Olympic Games is Alice Aprot, who made the 10,000m such a spectacle by covering the first half within world record pace.

Aprot also won the African 10,000m title in gun-to-tape fashion in June 2016 but the 22-year-old was a well-beaten third at the Kenyan Trials and might not be in the shape to employ her front-running tactics of last year quite so effectively.

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“That team is perfectly strong. Retirement was always coming for me from the track and now that I can focus on the marathon, I will sit back and watch them fight. But I believe in them and they are capable of beating anybody,” Cheruiyot said on Wednesday in Nairobi.

The Kenyan trio will be up against Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana, who is remembered for decimating the opposition at last year’s Olympic Games.

However, though Ayana was in such a perfect form last year, which also saw her smash the world record, the Ethiopian has not demonstrated anything in the way of quantifiable form heading into the World Championships.

Ayana has been struggling with injury all season which has forced her to cancel a number of scheduled appearances on the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

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She was hoping to make her season’s debut over 3,000m in Monaco in July but the Ethiopian team management preferred her to stay in the pre-championships training camp in Addis Ababa.

Despite her lack of recent form, the Ethiopian selectors have still named her for the 10,000m and she has a wildcard for the 5,000m by virtue of the fact she is the reigning champion.

The second-fastest entrant is Tirunesh Dibaba, who is looking to claim her sixth gold medal at the World Championships to go alongside her three Olympic titles on the track.

The Ethiopian team roster also includes world 5,000m silver medallist Senbere Teferi, who made a 30:41.68 debut at the distance in Hengelo in June.

Other top runners in the field are Americans Emily Infeld, Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson, there is also Yasemin Can from Turkey has dominated the European scene and Bahrain’s Shitaye Eshete.

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