Moraa and Chepkoech seek to give Kenya glorious World Championships finish in 800m and steeplechase

Moraa and Chepkoech seek to give Kenya glorious World Championships finish in 800m and steeplechase

Joel Omotto 16:30 - 27.08.2023

Kisii Express will square it off in a strong field for the 800m title while 3,000m steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech battle compatriot Jackline Chepkoech for gold in Budapest

Mary Moraa and Beatrice Chepkoech are among those carrying Kenya’s hopes for gold as the 2023 World Athletics Championships concludes in Budapest, Hungary tonight.

Kenya has so far won just two gold medals, claimed by the indefatigable Faith Kipyegon in the women’s 1,50om and 5,000m, with two more silver and as many bronze, but there are hopes that more could arrive in the women’s 800m and 3,000m steeplechase as well as the men’s 5,000m.

The women’s 800m final looks just like the semis. Just like the heats, too, come to think of it. Eight athletes, one race, so many chances. The one difference is that there are three medals to be won whereas there were only two final spots available in the semis.

Another question is just what will Moraa do? The woman who seemingly never runs two successive 100m segments in the same manner relishes in keeping opponents guessing. Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson – the gold and silver medallists at the 2021 Olympics and 2022 World Championships – will need to be on their toes to beat the Kenyan.

Meanwhile, the women’s steeplechase could develop into the battle between Kenya’s two Chepkoechs: world record-holder Beatrice, who is enjoying a resurgence after a couple of quieter years, and world U20 and Commonwealth champion Jackline, still only 19 and definitely on the rise.

There are others who might upset that storyline, though. Winfred Yavi is usually up and about. Ethiopia’s Sembo Almayew is poised to break nine minutes. Then there is Kenya’s Faith Cherotich, the 2022 World U20 steeplechase champion.

Having withdrawn from the 2022 World Championships due to injury, Beatrice Chepkoeah is itching to reclaim the title she won in Doha in 2019 but the younger Jackline will be hoping to profit from any slip ups after stunning her compatriot at the London Diamond League.

The men’s 5,000m is being spoken of as a Jakob Ingebrigtsen redemption race. It’s that, but the Norwegian is the defending champion and there are also a lot of others in redemption mode – the beaten 10,000m runners who are doubling back here, such as Berihu Aregawi and Mo Ahmed.

Kenya’s hopes in this race rests on the shoulders of Jacob Krop and Ishmael Kipkirui. The two might not be as experienced at this level but have enough to win a medal even if gold proves elusive.