Sunday, 23 August 2009

Kenyan Queens of the Track: 12th IAAF Berlin Championships


Vivian Cheruiyot, Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet and Iness Chepkesis Chenonge

After watching the photo finish of the women's 5000 meters where Vivian Cheruiyot and Sylvia Kibet floored Meseret Defar it is clear to my mind that the beautiful Kenyan girls now rule the long distance track events. It all began on the second day of the championships when Linet Maasai ended the Kenyan 10 year drought to win gold in the 10,000 meters final.

After a slow tactical race Cheruiyot the 2007 silver medallist outkicked Sylvia Kibet and Defar to claim gold in 14:57:97 Kibet went past dejected Defar to take silver in 14:58:33.
Kibet and Cheruiyot incidentally attended the same high school Sing’ore Girls’ Secondary School - a school that has produced among others world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei .


Sylvia Kibet has come a long way inspired by older sister Hilda Kibet and fantastic road running cousin Lorna Kiplagat she started an international career at age 15 winning Africa youth 3000m gold medal while still in primary school. She has overcome many challenges staying away from races to complete her O-levels, get married to Erastus and to be a mother to Britney Jepkosgei , and to juggle a career with the Kenya police.
While many people have missed the brilliant athlete in the distance mistakenly classing her in the events that started her career the 1500 and 3000m races in which she holds the national best times. She should have been someone to watch when she finished fourth behind Melkamu, Defar and Vivian and again in the Beijing Olympics behind the Ethiopian champions. But in 2009 everyone will surely stand up and take notice of the wonderful 25 year old.

Linet Chepkwemoi Masai of Kenya celebrates winning the gold medal in the women's 10,000 Metres Final during day one of the 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium on August 15, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day One

Vivian Cheruiyot credits Linet Masai with the inspiration that led her to the most dramatic 50 metres of a long distance event in these championships. The perennial threat to the Ethiopian crew Vivian finally floored them as she puts it “We prayed for this gold medal and God gave it to us. On my last 100m I was pushing so hard, pushing, pushing”. Masai and Vivian share an agent.

Her inspiration Linet Chepkwemoi Masai is only 20 and the second part of the Masai trilogy of athletes. Her brother Moses Ndiema has also bagged bronze in these championships and he also credits his sister for the inspiration.
Masai who started out as junior world cross country champion in Mombasa 2007 struggled to change over to track. After missing out on the medal brackets to the Ethiopians in many meets she finally made it to become world champion and inspiration for other champions as she says "I can't believe it. I'm so grateful for the win. I didn't give up."

Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day One

Another wonderful lady from the Mount Elgon region of Kenya is Milka Chemos Chweiya who won bronze in the womens steeplechase.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Three

Aug 17 2009

BERLIN - AUGUST 17: (L-R) Yuliya Zarudneva of Russia receives the silver medal, Marta Dominguez of Spain the gold medal and Milcah Chemos Cheywa of Kenya the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the women's 3000 Metres Steeplechase Final during day three of the 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium on August 17, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Content © 2009 Getty Images . All rights reserved.

These ladies embody what Sylvia Kibet says of Kenyan champions of how they have to overcome trials to become champions "You come from the bush, or you come from the forest. Then you train, and you become a champion."

Meanwhile this year saw Kenyas fantastic duo of Pamela Jelimo Olympic champion and Janeth Jepkosgei world champion over the distance faced with new challenges the two ladies have won all 800 metres titles on offer for the last three years but in Berlin the 20 year old golden girl Pamela Jelimo after winning her heats pulled out of the semi final after too much strain on her injuries. Jepkosgei who first urged Jelimo to join the 800 meters competition was left on her own to take on Africa’s Champion South African Caster Semenya. Caster had tripped Janeth in the heats but beat her fair and square in the final.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Six THE CHAMPIONS

However the poor south African teenager still has to be subjected to a gender test. One wonders if Usain Bolt or any other male champion would be subjected to gender test had they looked a bit female. Let Caster keep her six pack. However in Kenya Jelimo-mania is being put to test but many of her fans still adore the 20 year old runner.
Anyway many Kenyans are looking for the return of the sensational Kapsabet Express “Jelimo” and to watch her and the more mature, dependable and experienced eldoret express “Jepkosgei” take on new kid on the block Caster.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 05: Pamela Jelimo of Kenya celebrates after winning the Golden League $1 Million Jackpot in the Women's 800m during the IAAF Golden League meeting at the Memorial Van Damme Stadium on September 5, 2008 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
IAAF Golden League - Brussels

The Kenyan men have also been doing their bit. They finished 1-2 in the marathon earlier in the day Abel Kirui and Emmanuel Kipchirchir taking the honors and Mwafrika Robert Cheruiyot falling out of the medal brackets. The double 1-2 finish gave Kenya four golds and 10 overall. Ezekiel Kemboi won his first steeplechase gold followed by Richard Matelong after great team effort with Kipsiele Koech who set the pace and Brimin Kipruto. They however have an uphill task as Joshua Kivuva and Alfred Kirwa Yego take on ex-Kenyan Yusuf Saad Kamel.

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Loving life and living it. “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
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