Kenya's poster girl Cherono relishing chance to dazzle in Rio
01 August 2016, 18:55
Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Mercy Cherono is simply Kenya' s
athletics poster girl, with her dashing smile illuminating
international championships since she announced herself to the
world as the women 3000m junior champion at the Bydgoszcz 2008
edition in Poland.
From television adverts to billboards, the 25-year-old from the
northwestern region of Kericho has grown from a shy but precocious
talent into a fashion symbol in a sport that has placed her nation
on the global map.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Cherono gave a reminder of her
abilities when she won gold in the women's 5000m final, having
taken the second medal at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the
However, what would have been her Olympics debut in London 2012
was erased by injury and having qualified in the Kenyan 5000m team,
Cherono was eager to make up for lost time but her build-up for Rio
2016 was blighted by the court case facing her Italian coach,
Claudio Berardelli, who is out on bail on charges related to
"I have been forced to miss training to travel to Nairobi to
support him because we believe he is being framed. It has disturbed
me and my colleagues," she rued, her beautiful face dulled by dark
rings of despair.
To realise her medal dream in Brazil, Cherono who repeated as
3000m junior champion in 2010, faces arguably the toughest test of
her rewarding career having trailed four-time world champion,
Vivian Cheruiyot and women 3000m world indoor champion, Helen Obiri
across the line in distant third at the Kenya Trials for Rio 2016
in Eldoret in Jul. 1 in 15:25.51.
"I was really excited to qualify, I had been praying for it
since last year so I' m really excited. If we co-operate and be one
as a team everything is possible," she stated having run 15:01.36
for fifth at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
"I' m working hard trying to do my best. It' s not fair for our
coach to be going what he is going through and we need his case to
end so that we can concentrate," she emphasized.
Cherono hates to lose and every time she disappoints on the
track, she often bursts to tears especially when wearing her
cherished red, green and black Kenyan strip.
"I don' t know about emotions because it just comes but you try
to maintain it the best way you can," the 2007 World Youth champion
in 3000m explained.
Her stunning looks have brought her more fame that her
achievements in the sport domestically, having grown to a social
media darling with every picture she posts on social media going
viral, appearing in Kenya' s biggest television shows and
Suitors from far and wide have vied for her affections but she
deftly ducks the question of whether anyone has been lucky to win
"I' m engaged to the Olympics. Nothing else but the Olympics,"
she said flashing one of her famous smile that melts many a
A couple of years ago, she told a local television station that
she was keen on taking up golf as a pastime outside athletics but
the more mature version of the pinup girl has adopted a rather
"I love reading to relax. Helps me gain more knowledge, since
there is life outside athletics," the Kenya Police Service officer,
who is often engaged at the force' s parade during national
celebrations to show the glamorous part of law enforcement, replied
with a grin.
Beside the international competition fronted by London 2012
women 10000m silver medallist, Cheruiyot, 32 and Obiri who has
recently returned from attending to maternal duties, the Kenyans
force the formidable force that is world women 5000m champion from
Beijing 2015, Ethiopia' s Almaz.