Defar to join rival Cheruiyot in road running

London Olympic Games champion Meseret Defar (left) and Rio Olympics 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot share a warm moment during the 2017 Great North Run 10km race in Addis Ababa. PHOTO | BERNARD ROTICH |

What you need to know:

  • Ethiopian great reveals her plans to shift to marathon running next year after lull in career.
  • Defar said she is looking forward to clashing with Cheruiyot again.

Former Olympics champion Meseret Defar will shift from track to road next year.

Defar, who won the 2012 Olympics Games women’s 5,000m gold will be making her debut in one of the major marathons and her preparation to conquer the road had started on high gear. Nation Sport caught up with her at the Great Ethiopian Run, a race organised by Haile Gebrselassie in Addis Ababa where she was one of the guests.

“I know many have been wondering what I’m up to after being inactive for some time but I want to assure my fans that I’m in athletics to stay.

“I will be training for my marathon debut next year,” she said.

Her career started in Addis Ababa unlike many other legendary athletes who start running in the villages before going to the Ethiopian capital.

Defar attributes her success in athletics to hard work and discipline.

“My success, I must say, comes from self-discipline and determination to always work hard to achieve your goal. Without the two components, you will not make it in life,” said Defar.

She talked of her warm friendship with track rival Vivian Cheruiyot who bagged a 5,000m gold medal at last year’s Rio Olympics.

At the 2012 Olympics Games in London, the two fiercely fought out for the 5,000m title eventually won by Defar in 15:04.25 ahead of Cheruiyot who clocked 15:04.73 while Tirunesh Dibaba was third.

“I’m really happy for Cheruiyot who had been looking for a gold medal in the Olympics and finally got it last year in Rio.

“She is my good friend and I know she has a bright future in marathon,” Defar said.

Talking about Cheruiyot’s win in October in the Frankfurt Marathon, Defar said that she was touched after seeing the Kenyan cross the line first.

“Yes, I watched the race and I was so happy because that’s the spirit of sports where you cheer your friend to victory,” said the smiling Defar.

Defar said she is looking forward to clashing with Cheruiyot again.