In this column for day 4, Justin Lagat writes glowingly about the importance to Kenya of the gold medal win by Faith Kipyegon!
Faith Kipyegon’s is the only gold medal for Kenya, so far, at the Oregon World championships; one of the gold medals that the Kenyan fans were almost assured of getting ahead of the World Championships. She didn’t disappoint when her time came. From the heats to the semi-finals, it was clear that her main rival at the finals was going to be Ethiopia’s Tsegay Gudaf.
In a race that had four runners separate themselves from the rest of the field in their first lap, Kipyegon remained patient just behind Gudaf and waited for the right moment before unleashing her deadly kick in the last 300m that saw the gap between the two continue to grow in the last 100m.
Kipyegon won her second world title in the second fastest ever 1,500m time of 3:52.96 at the World Championships. Sifan Hassan’s 3:51.95 which she ran in Doha 2019 remains the fastest. Almost two seconds behind Kipyegon, Gudaf won the silver medal in 3:54.52. Both Tsegay and Kipyegon moved a step up from the medals they won at the Doha World Championships in 2019.
After remaining with the two main protagonists up to the last lap, Great Britain’s Laura Muir won a bronze medal in 3:55.28.
Had it not been for Kipyegon’s gold, Kenya which is currently placed at the 3rd position on the medal table, would be somewhere below the 18th position.
How precious Faith Kipyegon’s gold medal was for Kenya! It brought Kenya’s performance at the championships to a better position than their worst ever performance since 1987; to third place on the medal table.
The last time Kenya won less than two gold medals at the world championships was in Helsinki in 2005 where Benjamin Limo had won the men’s 5000m gold medal in one interesting race. Limo had failed to get an automatic qualification after finishing fifth in his heat that needed only four runners to advance. He only advanced to the finals as the fastest loser. In the end, he ended up becoming the only gold medalist for Kenya. The only other times since 1987 were in 1999 and 2003. The highest number of gold medals Kenya has won is 5, which they won at the Beijing world championships in 2015.
As the championships continue, Kenyan athletes in Oregon should now sigh with relief knowing that their outing won’t be the worst. There still remain hopes for gold medals in the remaining events that include men’s and women’s 5000m and 800m, and the women’s 3000m steeplechase races.
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