Though she was just shy of 27 when she wrapped up the inaugural Diamond League 5000-meter championship in 2010, Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot was already a seasoned veteran of international competition. As with many distance runners, she’s extended her range as she’s aged, from 3000- and 5000-meter races, up to 10,000-meter events in 2011. She then earned gold medals at both 5000 and 10,000 meters at the 2011 World Championships.
Cheruiyot was the world’s top 5000-meter performer in 2010. In addition to winning the Diamond League title, she won the African Championships and the Commonwealth Games title. She also earned a silver medal in the 3000 meters at the World Indoor Championships.
The slender Kenyan first made her mark in cross country, finishing fifth in the Junior World Cross Country Championships, at age 14, in 1998. She improved to second in 1999 and won the Junior title in 2000. She began 2011 by earning her first Senior Cross Country Championship, finishing the Punta Umbria course in 24:58.
Schools have played key roles in Cheruiyot’s career. She got her first taste of competitive running at age 11, during a sports day at her school in Kenya. She excelled, enjoyed the experience, and hasn’t stopped running since. When she seemed to disappear from the international track scene between 2003-05, she was actually focusing on her education, although she continued training.
Fastest 5000-Meter Race Ever:
In 2007, Cheruiyot topped Meseret Defar’s previous 5000-meter world record, finishing in 14:22.51. Unfortunately for Cheruiyot, Defar also beat her old mark on that day, winning the Oslo race in 14:16.63. Cheruiyot’s performance is currently the fifth-best women’s 5000-meter run in history.
Career Track Highlights:
Cheruiyot earned a spot on Kenya’s 2000 Olympic team at age 17 and placed 14th in the 5000. She returned to the Olympics in 2008 to take fifth in Beijing, a disappointing finish at that stage of her career. Cheruiyot was second in the 5000 at the 2007 World Championships, but won the event in Berlin two years later. She’s also won the African Junior Championship (2001), the World Athletics Final (2007) and the Continental Cup (2010), prior to her breakout performance at the 2011 World Championships.
- Height: 5-feet-1
- Weight: 84 pounds
- Birth date: Sept. 11, 1983
- Hometown: Keiyo, Kenya
- Personal best: 4:06.6 (1500 meters); 14:20.87 (5000); 30:48.98 (10,000)