Team Kenya at 2023 World Championships: The winners and losers after less than impressive 10 medals in Budapest

ATHLETICS Team Kenya at 2023 World Championships: The winners and losers after less than impressive 10 medals in Budapest

Joel Omotto 07:40 - 29.08.2023

Faith Kipyegon and Mary Moraa were among those who impressed for Kenya in Budapest but who are the athletes that failed to live up to expectations?

Kenya had a slightly improved performance at the 2023 World Athletics Championships after gaining one more gold medal compared to their disappointing showing in Eugene in 2022.

Team Kenya ended the 2023 event with a total of 10 medals, three gold, as many silver, and four bronze.

In last year’s edition, the country also managed 10 medals but there were two gold medals, five silver, and three bronze.

However, Kenya went to Budapest with hopes of doing better than the 10 medals and while some runners lived up to the expectations, some failed to sparkle. Pulse Sports looks at the winners and losers from Team Kenya in Budapest.

Winner: Faith Kipyegon

Only one place to start, the mother of one went to Budapest as the most in form athlete and she delivered on the grand stage yet again.

Kipyegon had broken three world records between June and July and August presented an opportunity to further enhance her reputation as the undisputed GOAT in middle-distance running.

She did not disappoint as she became the first woman to win three gold medals at the World Championships in 1,500m before outclassing a strong field to add the 5,000m title to her collection.

With that feat, it would be a travesty if the 29-year-old is not crowned 2023 World Athlete of the Year.

Winner: Mary Moraa

The dancing queen was at it again in Budapest as she ran a tactical race to claim a World Championship 800m gold for the first time in her career.

Having managed bronze in Eugene before winning gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, ‘Kisii Express’ showed early in the season that 2023 was going to be her year.

She has remained unbeaten in the two-lap race and even a strong field of defending champion Athing Mu, Keely Hodgkinson, who won sliver in 2022, and Ugandan Halimah Nakaayi did not scare her.

As the only Kenyan woman left standing in the 800m, Moraa found strength when it mattered most as she outsprinted Mu while fending off Hodgkinson to win gold in the tightest of margins and reclaim the title that Kenya last won in 2013.

Winner: Emmanuel Wanyonyi

The 19-year-old went to the World Championships as the one to watch and lived up to expectations.

The former World Under-20 champion made his intentions known with his great performances in the Diamond League as well as the Kip Keino Classic and narrowly missed out on gold in Budapest to settle for silver after engaging in fierce competition with the eventual champion Marco Arop from Canada.

With defending champion Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich failing to make the final, Kenya lacked experience in the race but Wanyonyi showed that he is ready to take over the mantle and at 19, a lot more is in store for him, starting with the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Winner: Faith Cherotich

Another teenager who upset the established order, 19-year-old Faith Cherotich won bronze in the 3,000m steeplechase after running tactically to stay on the shoulders of compatriot and world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who won silver.

The race was billed as a battle for the Chepkoechs with Beatrice Chepkoech and Jackline Chepkoech heading into the final as the Kenyan athletes to beat but the youngster upset the formbook with a great run to finish on the podium in a race won by Kenyan-born Bahraini Winfred Mutile Yavi.

With Beatrice Chepkoech recently struggling with injury and form, Kenya might have just found the woman to take over in Cherotich.

Loser: Marathon teams

Kenya is renowned for its marathon prowess but could not win even a bronze in either men's or women’s marathon in Budapest.

The women’s team had Rosemary Wanjiru, who finished sixth, followed by Sally Chepyego Kaptich while Shyline Jepkorir did not finish the race as Kenya failed to recapture the title won by Ruth Chepng’etich in 2019.

The men’s team did even worse, Titus Kipruto the best-placed Kenyan in eighth place, while Timothy Kiplagat was 14th as Joshua Belet failed to finish the race.

Kenya’s marathon team did not inspire confidence even before heading to Budapest and it was no surprise when they failed to mount a challenge.

Loser: Emmanuel Korir

Heading to the World Championships as the defending champion, Korir was hampered with an injury for most of the 2023 but he kept giving assurances that he will be in good shape to retain his title.

However, Kenya’s worst fears were confirmed when he had an unceremonious exit from the 800m heats alongside compatriot Ferguson Rotich.

Korir did not feature in most competitions before the Worlds as he avoided aggravating his injury with the hope of springing a surprise in Budapest as he had done in previous competitions but the gamble failed to pay off this time.

Loser: Ferdinand Omanyala

Africa’s fastest man had promised everyone that he would win a medal at the World Championships and backed it up with impressive performances in 2023.

Omanyala stayed unbeaten between April and June before three podium finishes in the Diamond League, coupled with a win, and he was seen as the man to end Africa’s wait for a World Championship gold in 100m.

He, however, found the going tough from the semi-final where he sneaked into the final as one of the fastest losers, and any hopes of making amends went up in smoke as he finished seventh.

Running in the eighth lane, Omanyala was slow off the blocks and could not catch up with his rivals, ending the championship in disappointing fashion.

Loser: Julius Yego

The 2015 world javelin champion had to bid goodbye to the World Championships after a dismal show in the qualifying stage.

Yego, who was making his sixth appearance at the event, failed to live up to the billing after throwing 78.42m to finish a disappointing 17th and miss out on another chance to fly the country’s flag.

The 34-year-old has been battling a series of injuries and has failed to perform well in the recent past.

He was also in action at last year’s World Championships in Eugene, Oregon but also failed to make it to the final, and at 34, he will have to really turn his fortunes around to be able to challenge at the 2024 Paris Olympics of 2025 World Championships in Tokyo.