First, our condolences to Cheserek and his family as his youngest sister died in her sleep last month at age-18. He traveled back to Kenya for the funeral and is now back in Eugene.
Cheserek says he is "100 percent" healthy and still being coached by Andy Powell while he tries to figure out a shoe contract. He's working on his US citizenship with his agent, but apparently it will take quite some time. From the Register Guard:
Maybe I just assumed too much, but I had thought Cheserek was much further along in the citizenship process than that. Did someone drop the ball with this whole green card thing? He's been here since high school and I remember there was mention of him having intentions to run for the US a year or two ago. For comparison, Lopez Lomong came to the US in 2001 and had his citizenship by 2007, but obviously Lomong came under completely different circumstances and Cheserek might not have decided he wanted to get citizenship until later on.
Years ago, people associated with Cheserek’s high school — St. Benedict Prep in New Jersey — were working on his behalf to get Cheserek a green card via the Aliens of Extraordinary Ability exemption. Those efforts stalled without ever being completed.
Cheserek’s agent said he has started talks with an immigration lawyer to resume — and finish — the process.
“I’m really eager to get this done,” said Chris Layne, the managing director of Total Sports US, the agency that represents Cheserek and whose client list claims several current or former members of Eugene-based Oregon Track Club Elite, including U.S. Olympians Ben Blankenship, Hassan Mead and Nick Symmonds, and former Kenyan 10,000 silver medalist Sally Kipyego — who recently became a U.S. citizen herself.
If Cheserek is granted the AEA exemption, it immediately starts a five-year clock to citizenship, meaning he would miss at least one more Olympic cycle as he waits to become a U.S. citizen.
Unlike Kipyego, Cheserek doesn’t have a desire to compete for his native Kenya during the process.
“My dream is just competing for the U.S,” he said.
He also has no interest in joining the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which has gained some level of fame in the last year after qualifying four Kenyan-born track athletes for the 2016 Olympics, including Paul Chelimo, who went on to win silver in the 5,000.