Kipyegon the person to beat in 1500m women race at World Championships

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 07:15 | By
Two-time world 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon. PHOTO/
Two-time world 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon. PHOTO/

You have to go back to 10 June 2021 to find the last time Faith Kipyegon was beaten in a 1500m race – on that occasion by Sifan Hassan in the Florence Diamond League meeting. The prospects of it happening at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 would appear to be on the remote side of unlikely.

Barring illness, injury or a mid-race fall, it is difficult to imagine anyone preventing the Kenyan sensation of the 2023 track and field season from becoming the first woman to complete a hattrick of world 1500m titles – and, for that matter, from proceeding to become the first woman to accomplish the 1500m-5000m double.

The clock has been the 2017 and 2022 champion’s only rival throughout the northern hemisphere summer and, even then, the old marks in the world record book have been no match for the 29-year-old.

As if becoming the first woman to break the 3:50 barrier for 1500m, with 3:49.11 in Florence on 2 June, wasn’t enough, Kipyegon slashed more than four seconds off Hassan’s mile record with a stunning 4:07.64 in Monaco on 21 July – matching New Zealander Jack Lovelock’s men’s world record time at Princeton in 1933. Then, of course, there was also the 14:05.20 world record at 5000m in Paris in between.

In the 1500m in Florence, Kipyegon won by 7.09 from Laura Muir, the Briton who took Olympic silver in Tokyo and world bronze behind the Kenyan and Ethiopia’s world indoor record-holder Gudaf Tsegay in Oregon last year. In the mile in Monaco, she finished 6.94 clear of Ireland’s European and Commonwealth silver medallist Ciara Mageean, who broke Sonia O’Sullivan’s 29-year-old national record with a time of 4:14.58.

It would seem that the rest will be running for silver and bronze at best in Budapest.

Tsegay, next fastest in the 2023 world list with 3:54.03, is concentrating on the 5000m and 10,000m, but the Ethiopian challenge is still mightily strong.

World indoor bronze medallist Hirut Meshesha (3:54.87) and world U20 champion Birke Haylom (3:54.93) were first and second in big PBs in the Silesia Diamond League meeting and are next quickest this year. The 17-year-old Haylom broke Kipyegon’s world U20 record in Poland.

Diribe Welteji, fourth in the 800m in Oregon last year, finished third in Silesia in 3.55.08. The entry list also includes Frewenyi Hailu, who was second in Rabat in 3.57.65, but she is likely to be the Ethiopian reserve.

As well as Mageean and Muir, the Australians Linden Hall and Jess Hull and US duo Cory Ann McGee and Nikki Hiltz could also feature. And then there is Hassan.

The 30-year-old is not quite the flying Dutchwoman who achieved the stunning 1500m-10,000m double in Doha four years ago, or who plundered 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.-World Athletics

 The toll of that Olympic treble challenge and preparing for her marathon debut, which she won in thrilling fashion in London in April, has clearly taken the edge off her speed.

Still, even when being outkicked by Tsegay and Beatrice Chebet in the London Diamond League 5000m on 23 July, she took third place in 14:13.42, a European record. Though the 5000m and 10,000m are her better medal bests in Budapest, she is also entered for the 1500m.

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