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Vivian Cheruiyot: The Famous Kenya’s Queen of Long-Distance Returns at 40

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Former 5000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot made a comeback in October at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in India. She’s been away from active competition since 2020. Her last competitive race was the London Marathon, where she finished ninth. It’s not the first time Cheruiyot has taken a break from the sport. In 2013, she went on maternity leave and made a successful comeback. Will she be as competitive?

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Vivian Cheruiyot’s Early Years

Vivian Cheruiyot: The Famous Kenya’s Queen of Long-Distance Returns at 40
Vivian Cheruiyot racing at the Daegu Championships. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cheruiyot grew up in Keiyo, Rift Valley. Like many athletes from the area, her career started with local competitions. Aged 15, she won a silver medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. 

She performed well at the World Youth Championships in the same year and was included in the Kenyan team that represented the country in the All-Africa Games that year.

First Olympics

Her performance levels and made the cut for the 2000 Olympics. This was her first world major event. After a great start that saw her qualify for the 5000m final, Cheruiyot came last in the race. 

After her first Olympic outing, Cheruiyot returned to the junior circuit. She clinched gold in the Africa Junior Championship and a bronze at the World Junior Championships in Kingston.

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Professional Running Career

Vivian Cheruiyot: The Famous Kenya’s Queen of Long-Distance Returns at 40
Vivian Cheruiyot celebrating a race win. Image Source: Wikimedia licensed under CC BY 2.0

Vivian Cheruiyot stepped onto the world stage and participated in world majors. In 2007, she won the silver medal at the World Championship in Osaka, Japan. 

In 2008, Cheruiyot made it to the Kenyan Olympic team. This time, she performed better. Although she didn’t finish on the podium, Cheruiyot finished fourth. 

The following year, the long-distance runner broke a record and won a couple of races. Cheruiyot ran the indoor 3000m in a time of 8:30.53 to break the record. She won the Great Manchester Run and the World’s Best 10K. 

At the World Championships in Berlin, the athlete won gold in her event. Cheruiyot finished the year on a high with a silver medal in the 3000m and a bronze in the 5000m.

Cheruiyot maintained her consistency in 2010. She won gold in the following events:

  • Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
  • African Championships.
  • Diamond League.
  • Continental Cup.

In 2011, Cheruiyot participated in the cross-country races. She finished third in the Great Edinburgh Cross-Country. She also ran the Kenya Cross-Country Championship and came second. At the World Cross Country Championship in Spain, Cheruiyot took home the gold in the senior race.

Aside from the cross-country championships, Cheruiyot competed in the Diamond League and the World Athletics Championships. In both events, she took home the gold medal. 

In her third Olympic outing at London 2012, the long-distance runner claimed the silver and bronze in the 5000m and 10,000m. 

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Maternity Leave and Comeback

In 2013, Vivian Cheruiyot announced her first pregnancy and couldn’t compete. At the time, she was 29 and ready to start a family. As for her athletics career, she targeted the Rio Olympic Games. 

She returned after the birth in 2014 of her son with the aim of cutting her weight and getting back to full fitness in preparation for the Rio Olympics. 

In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, she won the 10,000-meter race in Beijing at the World Championships. 

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Rio Olympics

Cheruiyot won her first gold medal at the Olympics in the 5000m and bagged a silver medal in the 10,000m. 

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Marathon Majors

Vivian Cheruiyot: The Famous Kenya’s Queen of Long-Distance Returns at 40
Vivian Cheruiyot at the London Marathon. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0

After success in the 5000m and 10,000m, Vivian Cheruiyot ventured into the road races. In 2017, Vivial ran the London and Frankfurt marathons. She finished fourth and first. 

Vivian Cheruiyot won the London Marathon in 2:18:31. In the same year, she ran the New York and finished second. 

She returned to the London Marathon in 2019 but couldn’t retain her title. She came second in 2:20:14. The following year, she completed the race in ninth. 

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Another Break and Comeback

The 2020 London Marathon was her last competitive race. She took time out to have her second baby and returned after two years. She says she wants to run better than she did before her retirement. Her first race was the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon, where she finished fifth in 1:11:26.

At 40, Vivian Cheruiyot is hoping to run her best. However, she always has to be in the best shape to be competitive alongside younger athletes. 

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