Vivian Cheruiyot will be chasing the only major medal missing from her collection in Rio this summer – Olympic gold.
The Kenyan distance running superstar reclaimed her 10,000m title at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year.
The 31-year-old previously achieved double Worlds glory in the Korean city of Deagu, winning 5,000 and 10,000m gold, but missed out on chance to defend her titles in Moscow three years ago because of her pregnancy.
“I have won the World Championships five times and have Olympic silver and bronze medals but not the gold. I want a gold in 2016”
After giving birth to a son in October 2013, Cheruiyot returned to training the following June 2014, but she and husband Moses Kiplagat, who is also her coach, decided to opt out of a bid for a place on the Kenyan team going to the IAAF World Cross Country in Guiyang, China, last March.
Instead, they wanted to focus their attention on making the national team for the longer event on the track in Beijing.
Before taking time off to start a family, Cheruiyot’s last competitive race was during the London 2012 Olympics whereby she won the bronze medal, but was disappointed she couldn’t bring back home the gold.
She took time off her preparations for the 2016 Olympics to talk to Elephant Sport about her comeback and goals for 2016.
How did you get into long-distance running?
I started running at school when I was very young. Kenya is famous for long-distance runners and I was able to win against people my own age and older.
How did your first competitive race feel after coming back from maternity leave?
I took my time getting back into competition. I knew I was not in my top shape so I raced conservatively at first. Normally, I was used to pushing the pace from the start, but in my first few races I started conservatively and tried to finish strong.
What is your training regime like and have you made any changes?
It is the same as it was before I had my child. I train six days per week and rest on Sunday. I combine track sessions, long runs, hill work , tempo runs and gym.
What motivated you to get back to your best after your maternity leave?
I missed the World Championships in 2013 as I was heavily pregnant, so wanted to try to get back for the 2015 World Championships.
Did you ever consider putting your career on hold to focus all your attention on being a full-time mother?
No, I knew I would get back into competition.
How do you manage to balance your career as an athlete around your home and family life?
I have a very supportive husband and family who help me.
What are your goals for 2016?
I have won the World Championships five times and have Olympic silver and bronze medals but not the gold. I want a gold in 2016.
What do you prefer – track or cross country, and why?
I prefer track. Cross country can be unpredictable with the weather and surface underfoot.
What do you do to stay focused during a race?
I train hard to make sure that I can finish the race strong. Normally in a race, I am just thinking about the pace and the other competitors.
You can follow Vivian on Twitter @VivianCheruiyot