The women’s 3000m in Doha is shaping up to be a mouth-watering clash between the top four finishers from last year’s IAAF World Championships 5000m in Berlin.
Vivian Cheruiyot, Sylvia Kibet, Sentanyehu Ejigu and world record-holder Meseret Defar will this weekend go head-to-head once more to decide who the best female distance runner on the track is.
When the quartet last met in Berlin, the dimunitive Cheruiyot was the surprise winner. Team-mate Kibet’s second-place finish ahead of Defar was just as much a surprise too, as Ejigu finished out of the medals.
Defar has bounced back this year with fast performances in the 3000m and 5000m, getting within a whisker of her own indoor records, and sending out a message loud and clear that she is a woman to beat.
The Ethiopian looked similarly invincible in the weeks before Berlin, but her planned assualt on a 5000m/10,000m bouble on that occasion did not materialise. Could history repeat itself?
Cheruiyot likes to think so. “Training has been going almost as good as last year, so I’m feeling good,”said the 26-year-old.
“Winning the World Championships has given me the motivation to be even more successful, because it has shown me that anything is possible.”
Cheruiyot has already had a successful-and varied-winter campaign, with good results on the cross-country scene and on the roads, as well as indoors.
Her last race before travelling to Doha was the World’s 10km in Puerto Rico, which she won in a PB of 31:07.
Just one week prior to that, she set a Kenyan record in the two miles at the Birmingham Aviva Grand Prix, finishing a stride behind double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and comfortably ahead of Ethiopian rival Ejigu.
But Cheruiyot’s favourite surface to compete on is the track, and she is relishing the prospect of another Kenyan 1-2 in the 3000m this weekend in Doha.
“I’m going to try my best to win again this weekend,”said Cheruiyot of this weekend’s race, which will just be her fourth ever indoor competition. “It would be great to have two of us winning medals, so Sylvia and I will work together to get a good result.”
Cheruiyot also holds Kenyan records for the 5000m (14:22:51) and the indoor 3000m (8:30:53), so it’s no surprise that she likes quick races.
“I’d like the 3000m this weekend to be a fast race,”she said. “In slower races, anyone can come out and win, but if the race is faster then everyone has to try harder, and only a few people will be able to keep up.”
After Doha, Cheruiyot is looking forward to competing well in her home country at the African Championships.
“That event means a lot to me because it is being held in Kenya and I’ll want to do well,”she said. “I’ll then want to compete at the Commonwealth Games and at some point I also want to set a PB for 5000m.”
As Cheruiyot said herself, her Berlin victory showed that anything is possible.