What you need to know:
- It goes without saying that the two-time Olympics champion in 1,500m Faith Chepng’etich was a woman under pressure to soothe the Kenyans' souls right after the steeplechase disappointment.
- “I was facing a lot of pressure. Everybody was expecting something special from me. Everybody was like, Faith, we believe in Faith, so it was a real pressure. But I managed it,” said Chepng’etich, who only needed to win the race and arguably become the Greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) in the race.
The women’s 1,500 metres race was not just like any other final. Kenyans' hearts were hurting.
They were hoping and praying for a reprieve with no golden pickings in their closet thus far.
They wanted something to warm them up in the chilly early morning.
Stanley Waithaka and Hellen Obiri might have warmed everyone with silver medal performances in the men’s and women’s 10,000m respectively, but losing the women’s marathon title and failing to recapture the men’s crown was painful.
Ethiopian Tamirat Tola ensured that Ethiopia retained the men’s marathon title on Sunday before his compatriot Gotytom Gebreslase swept to victory in the women's marathon on Monday.
Then Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali would rub more salt to the Kenyan injuries.
The man who had ended Kenya’s 38-year reign at the Olympics in Tokyo last year, would once again end the country’s 11-year dominance in the 3,000m steeplechase at the World Athletics Championships.
Two-time defending champion Conseslus Kipruto would settle for bronze.
It goes without saying that the two-time Olympics champion in 1,500m Faith Chepng’etich was a woman under pressure to soothe the Kenyans' souls right after the steeplechase disappointment.
“I was facing a lot of pressure. Everybody was expecting something special from me. Everybody was like, Faith, we believe in Faith, so it was a real pressure. But I managed it,” said Chepng’etich, who only needed to win the race and arguably become the Greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) in the race.
Getting to win four majors in the mile race is historic with no woman having achieved the feat.
“I’m so grateful to have reclaimed my title,” said Chepng’etich, who lost the title in 2019 Doha to Dutch Sifan Hassan upon return from maternity break.
“This was my big target. I was really looking forward to this championship. I was really, really prepared for this race.”
Chepng’etich delivered the historic moments nets in style and gusto. It was the country’s first victory in Oregon.
With her current top form Chepng’etich isn’t done yet. She wants to better her personal best of 3:51.07 perhaps with a new World Record this season.
Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba olds the World Record of 3:50.07 set at Fontvieille, Monaco in 2017.
It was the World indoor champion Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia, who proved a threat until Chepng’etich pulled away with about 300 metres to go to win in three minutes and 52.96 seconds.
Tsegay took the silver in 3:54.52, upgrading from the bronze she won in 2019.
“The race was not easy. The Ethiopians controlled the race and I knew they were planning something special. But for me, I was well prepared,” said Chepng’etich, who thanked her coach Patrick Sang, Global Sports Communication management and her husband Timothy Kitum for helping her deliver.
Tsegay was graceful in defeat.
“I was expecting more from this race, but my opponents were more experienced and lucky so I have to be grateful for the silver.”
Chepng’etich's journey to the top sounds like a fairytale, having started with her sweep of the world under-18 and under-20 titles in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
After finishing fifth in 4:05.08 on her debut at the World Athletics Championships in 2013 Moscow, Chepng’etich would strike silver at the 2015 Beijing world event in 4:08.96 to signal her entry to the big stage.
Chepng’etich would the following year become the first Kenyan to win the Olympic gold after Jebet Lagat in 2008 Beijing with victory during the 4:08.92 at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, stunning Dibaba, who settled for silver.
Chepng’etich took a maternity break before returning to settle for silver in a National Record time of 3:54.22 despite losing the world title to Hassan, who also chalked an Area Record and Championship Record of 3:51.95 at 2019 Doha.
The Kenyan never let her foot off the gas pedal to retain her Olympic title in Tokyo last year in an Olympic Record of 3:53.11.
Then her performance on Tuesday morning would cement her place in the history of the women’s 1,500m race.
Chepng’etich has chalked 16 Diamond League victories since her debut in 2015 which include her Series win in 2015, 2017 and 2021.