Nairobi — Newly-crowned World Under 20 1500m champion Reynold Cheruiyot dedicated his gold medal to his parents who were also runners but never made it big.
As an offspring of an athletics family, Cheruiyot vowed to bring honour to the family name by going a step further than his old folks ever did in their careers.
"My mom and dad were both athletes but they never got the opportunity to represent Kenya in international competitions or even compete abroad. In my mind, I had vowed to follow in their footsteps and one day make them proud. This gold is for them for all the support they have accorded me throughout my career," Cheruiyot said.
The junior athlete, who shares a surname with Olympic 1500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot, also credited the 2019 world champion for inspiring him with his performances on track and field.
"He comes from the same county as I (Bomet) and so I feel there's many more we share. I decided to embrace the name (Cheruiyot) because I believed it would inspire me to perform well like Tim in the men's 1500m. He has motivated me a lot in the last year," he said.
"I also want to thank my coach, Jacob Langat, for the good work he has done for me. He was always ready with encouraging words even when I felt like giving up. He constantly told me to keep pushing and I am happy that I listened to him," the youngster added.
At the Pablo Guerrero Stadium in Cali, Cheruiyot glided to gold in 3:35.83, ahead of Ethiopian Ermias Girma (3:37.24) in second as another Kenyan, Daniel Kimaiyo, went home with bronze after clocking 3:37.43.
Giving his assessment of the race, the champion admitted he was never in doubt over his ability to inherit the crown won by Vincent Keter at last year's edition in Nairobi.
"I was confident there were good things in store for me, especially after I clocked a faster time than most of my competitors like the Ethiopian. The win was also made possible by the teamwork between Kimaiyo and I, which started all the way from Nairobi. We had been talking and eagerly looking forward to the race," he said.
With Team Kenya having travelled for close to 24 hours from Nairobi to Colombia, Cheruiyot admitted the long journey had for a while taken a toll on him - as was the case for others.
"I was fatigued having travelled all the way from Nairobi to Amsterdam and then to this place. For a moment, I had a headache but thankfully I was able to recover in time for the race," he said.
His next stop is the Diamond League series in which Cheruiyot hopes to compete in at least two meetings as he gears up for an assault on next year's World Championship and Paris Olympics in 2024.
"I want to build on this performance and do better in the Diamond League this year. I know everybody now knows me and expects me to maintain the same level of performance. Therefore, I want to build on this gold and enhance my reputation even more. My ultimate dream is to become an Olympic champion," he said.