Birmingham, UKFourtime World champion Vivian Cheruiyot will run her only indoor race this season at the Aviva Grand Prix on Saturday (18), as she steps up preparations for Olympic gold.
The Kenyan distance runner will make her first appearance of 2012 at this IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting, and only her second since taking 5000m and 10,000m gold at the World Championships in Daegu last summer, at the NIA, where she’ll line up against Aviva GB & NI star Helen Clitheroe in a mouth-watering 3000m clash.
Cheruiyot, who also took the World Cross Country title in her dream 2011, was last week named Laureus’ Sportswoman of the Year and is hotly tipped to pick up at least one Olympic title at this summer’s Olympic Games.
The 29-year-old has only competed at the Aviva Grand Prix once, back in 2010 in her only ever appearance on these shores, but on that day she set a new, still-standing, national record of 8:30.53; something she intends to do this time around in what she describes as a “key” element to her Olympic timeline.
Cheruiyot said: “I’ve competed indoors in Birmingham once before and ran a Kenyan Record and I’m looking forward to racing there again.
“I will only run one indoor race this year so this will be a key meet for me – to see how my training has worked over the winter season and to see what I need to do in the next few months.
“Winning at Laureus was unbelievable and really unexpected, I’d watched so many other great sportsmen and women get the award over the past few years and I was so pleased to win this year.
“It was a great start to the year and I hope that this is a sign of a good 2012 – which is an incredibly important year and something that we have been working towards for a long time now.
“I have definitely been steadily improving over the last few years and I think that my results, especially in major championships, have shown this to be true.
“The Olympics is so important to me – as it is to every athlete – but I think because I was ill in Beijing I’m pushing myself even harder to get a positive result in London. “
Despite her outing in Birmingham this weekend, Cheruiyot says that this will be her only venture into indoor running this season and she will not travel to Istanbul to contend the World Championships. Instead Cheruiyot wants to focus her attention on securing Olympic glory in five months’ time.
And Cheruiyot, who stands a diminutive 5’1” (1.55m), is fully aware of the implications of opting out of a major championship and says she is prepared for the inevitable pressure that being a champion delivers.
She added: “I’m only thinking about the Olympics this year so I’m not going to be racing at the World Indoor Championships. Of course it is a shame not to race in a major championship but I want to concentrate on the most important thing for me this year and that is the Olympics.
“I think winning three World titles in 2011 has definitely increased the interest in me. I now get a lot of journalists and photographers asking to visit me in Kenya. This can put extra pressure on you but I have no problem with it. As long as I work hard in training I know I will race well.”
Vivian Cheruiyot joins a stellar line-up of athletes competing at the Aviva Grand Prix, including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Asafa Powell, Holly Bleasdale, Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles, Hannah England, Kim Collins, Mark Lewis-Francis and Helen Clitheroe.
The Aviva Grand Prix will be at the NIA in Birmingham on 18 February. Tickets are now sold out.
Organisers for the IAAF