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Kipyego captures Olympic 10K spot.

Byline: Curtis Anderson The Register-Guard

Oregon Track Club Elite's Sally Kipyego became an Olympian on Friday.

The Eugene-based distance runner secured a berth on the Kenyan Olympic team by placing third in the 10,000 meters at the Kenyan Olympic Trials in Nairobi.

Kipyego, the silver medalist in the 10,000 at the World Championships last summer, didn't have much time to acclimate herself to the altitude and adjust to the travel and time zone differences after competing in the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on June 2.

The capital city of Nairobi sits at an altitude of 5,672 feet, but Kipyego overcame those issues with a time of 32 minutes, 26.82 seconds.

"Last year, I spent most of my training here," Kipyego told the IAAF. "I was able to master the altitude and win an automatic place to the World Championships. As a Nike athlete, I had to compete in Oregon and the two weeks I have been here are not enough for me to adapt to the conditions.

"My confidence is high after winning silver last year. I respect the other women, but I'm not afraid of them, that is the motivation I got from Daegu. That is easy on your mind knowing that you can compete with them."

Vivian Cheruiyot, the double gold medalist in the 10K and 5K at the 201 World Championships, finished first at 32:24.52, followed by Joyce Chepkirui at 32:24.71.

After the race, Athletics Kenya, the governing body for the sport, announced that those three runners would represent Kenya at the London Olympics in August.

"We are satisfied with the team, especially Vivian, who won here, since she has shown she is still in top form after what she did for the country last year," said Isaiah Kiplagat, Athletics Kenya chief.

OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland breathed a sigh of relief from his Eugene office on Friday.

"I'm relieved, more than anything," he said. "(Sally) did feel the altitude, but not quite as bad as other times. We dodged a bullet, she's done her job. We'll do the 5,000 next week when she should be more acclimated. That will give us a truer test of her fitness."

In the 10,000, Kipyego was in the lead pack of nine runners that moved to the front after 18 laps had been completed.

The diminutive Cheruiyot, who is known as the "Pocket Rocket," didn't make a definitive move to the front until the bell lap, and she easily held off Chepkirui's challenge.

Kipyego was a bit disappointed that she couldn't match the two, but she's looking forward to the 5,000 on June 23.

"I have no other race for a month, so yes, I will be there," she said. "In running you never know what can happen, and one day, it will be my turn to be in the middle of the podium."

Rowland said there will be no deviation from the original race plan as Kipyego begins final preparations over the next six weeks for her medal quest in London.

"That's always been the goal," Rowland said. "There are more players in the equation this year, we know that, and she's got some work to do. There are no illusions about that. She's not as sharp as she needs to be, but she's definitely in as good of shape as she was this time last year. We will carry on with the plan."
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Title Annotation:Olympics Track-Field; The OTC Elite runner places third in Nairobi at the Kenyan Trials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Jun 16, 2012
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