Vivian Cheruiyot holds off Defar in the 5000m in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright

Women's 5000 Metres - PREVIEW

Vivian Cheruiyot, who has dominated every major Championships 5000m race since finishing a disappointed fifth in Beijing, will be favoured for the gold medal on this occasion.

Cheruiyot four years ago in the burn up over the the final 600 metres when Tirunesh Dibaba took the title with a sub-60 second last lap, missed out on a podium place in the sprint race around that blistering final circuit.

This time Cheruiyot will come to the line as the reigning World champion after conjuring together her 5000m and 10,000m successes in Daegu last summer and leading this year's rankings with a time of 14:35.62.

Those victories and the strength she has accrued and displayed with her 2011 World Cross Country Championships victory will help drive her on to becoming what would be the first Kenyan women ever to win the 12 1/2 lap gold medal.

Cheruiyot will already have identified Ethiopian Meseret Defar, the 2004 winner in Athens and third in Beijing who she held off by 0.03sec in their clash at the Rome Golden Gala in May, as the major foe and a very determined one at that.

However Cheruiyot´s visibility when coming out to win the recent London Grand Prix when many of her rivals stayed at home emphasised her self confidence and also the fact she is 100 per cent fit for what will be her third Olympic Games after making her debut just a fortnight after her 17th birthday in Sydney 2000.

But she will be extremely wary of Defar one of the wiliest of competitors and who now getting back to full fitness has the capability of matching whatever type of race develops whether it is fast or slow and particularly if a speedy last 400 metres is required.

The highlight clash between the pair will once again project the massive rivalry between the northerly African nations and each country will no doubt have contrived a team rather than individual plan to steal the medals.

The Ethiopians field Gelete Burka who after some early leading clocked 14:41.43 in Rome behind Cheruiyot and Defar. In a tame race she could use her sub-four minute 1500m speed to cause an upset while Genet Yalew will be on an Olympic learning curve.

Backing Cheruiyot will be Viola Kibiwot and Sally Kipyego with times of 14:39.53 and 14:43.11 under their belts this year, the rankings clearly suggesting all of the six top positions will be shared between the sides.

Indeed the top two runners not from those countries will be Portugal's Sara Moreira and Russia's Svetlana Kireyeva who have clocked 15:08.33 and 15.08.36.

David Martin for the IAAF