Three-time world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot and US-based Betsy Saina were the first track athletes to punch their IAAF Beijing World Championship tickets after running to the 1-2 in the women 10,000m Trial at Nairobi’s Safaricom Stadium on Friday.
Joyce Chepkirui paid the perfect tribute to her fallen manager, Zane Branson, by hanging on for third place to lead the queue of finishers in the slow burner race who will be considered to join the top two for Beijing by selectors on Saturday.
Cheruiyot, who won the 5000m world title at the 2009 and 2011 editions before adding the longer distance crown at the latter’s edition in Daegu, uncorked her famed afterburners 350m to power past Saina, 27, who led at the bell before opening up her strides to romp home to victory in 32:58.40.
“The race was tough, the Trials are harder than the World Championships but I’m so happy to make a comeback after maternity leave.
“I knew I had a kick to finish the race fast and the weather was favourable. I’m confident we can reclaim the title with the girls we have here. That is my hope,” the Olympics silver (5000m) and bronze medallist (10000m) from London 2012 said.
Saina, the University of Iowa State graduate, was rewarded for her controlled running with second and a Team Kenya debut in in 32:59.20 ahead of Chepkirui 33:00.10 in a race that claimed famous scalps as it unfolded.
“I’m so happy to come and do so well at home. I’ve never represented the country at the World Championships. I feel great to make the team although it was not easy,” the overjoyed runner-up who finally nailed a Team Kenya place enthused.
Olympics 10,000m silver medallist, the returning Sally Kipyego, was forced out of the race with three laps to go after suffering a bad case of cramps, with her Beijing hopes hanging in wildcard selection since Chepkirui is yet to get qualifying time for the Worlds.
“I’m so disappointed. I was determined to win this race but I felt a stitch and I could not go on. I can’t talk right now because I feel so bad,” the shattered 2011 Daegu 10,000m silver medallist told Capital Sport as she received medical attention.
Veronicah Nyaruai, a former World Junior champion who was making a stab at the 25-lap race also fell by the wayside also at the same point of the race.