Day 4 of World Championships; Medals, medals, medals

Judith Korir after silver medal win at the 2022 World Athletics Championships

Day 4 of World Championships; Medals, medals, medals

Cyprian Kimutai 07:26 - 19.07.2022

Day four at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon can be summarized in three words; medals, medals, medals.

After a long wait, Kenya finally secured her first gold medal courtesy of arguably one of if not the greatest athlete of all time, Faith Kipyegon.

Before the final of the women’s 1,500m, Kenyans had already expressed their frustrations at Ethiopia’s domination at the global showpiece.

At the time, Kipyegon was stepping onto the track at Hayward Field, Ethiopians had already accumulated three gold medals and cemented their position at position three in the medal standings.

Faith Kipyegon wins gold in 1500m women's race during the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Orgeon

It is no understatement to say that all eyes were glued on Kipyegon to place her hand in the coveted cookie jar and indeed she did in exquisite fashion.

The 1,500m final was billed up to be a fast-paced race and the athletes didn’t disappoint. From the get-go, it was a clear-three horse race between Kipyegon, Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay and British athlete Laura Muir.

It was Tsegay, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic 5000m bronze medallist who made the first move, going gung-ho in the first 400 metres in 58.82. 

Tsegay was relentless for the next 800m, clocking in 2:03.18. Kipyegon, Tsegay and Ethiopia’s Hirut Meshesha immediately embarked in hot pursuit of Tsegay but after three and a half laps, Meshesha fell off, not to be seen again.

With less than 400 metres to go, Kipyegon kicked in the afterburners, passing Tsegay on the straights, a move that elicited huge reactions from the spectators in a packed Hayward Field. 

Kipyegon crossed the finish line in a time of 3:52.96, the 10th fastest time in history and the second fastest ever in the US ahead of Tsegay (3:54.52) and Muir (3:55.28).

Kipyegon’s win made her become one of only four women to become a double World Champion following her dominance in the 2017 World Championships.

Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay ahead of Faith Kipyegon

The double Olympic champion’s win came just minutes after Conseslus Kipruto secured a third-place finish in the 3,000m steeplechase.

The race saw Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali end Kenya’s 11 years of reign in the distance at the competition. 

El Bakkali who in Tokyo also ended Kenya’s 53-year dominance of 3000m steeplechase in the Summer Olympic Games spent most of the race at the back of the grid. 

From the get-go, the race was completely slow, with the athletes completing their first kilometre at 2:58.01, with the second kilometre not much quicker at 2:54.43.

To indicate how slow the race was, at the bell, 11 men were still in contention to win the race with defending world champion Conseslus Kipruto following closely the movements of Eritrea’s Yemane Haileselassie and Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale.

However, as the group approached the final stretch, El Bakkali made his move, powering through the outside to sprint past the three East Africans. The Moroccan crossed the line in 8:25.13 ahead of Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma (8:26.01) and Kipruto (8:27.92).

Kipruto’s bronze added to Kenya’s earlier silver medal clinched by Judith Korir in the women’s marathon. 

Judith Korir after silver medal win at the 2022 World Athletics Championships

At the start of the marathon, Kenyans were optimistic of a 1,2,3 sweep as the field was dominated by defending champion, Ruth Chepngetich, flanked by Angela Tanui, current course record holder in Amsterdam marathon.

Kenyans got off to the perfect start with all three Kenyans setting the pace alongside three Ethiopians; Gotytom Gebreslase, Ababel Yeshaneh and Ashete Bekere.

Chepngetich, the race favourite, was in control of the race for most of the race until the 18-kilometre mark when she suddenly dropped out following stomach problems.

Towards the second half of the marathon, Yeshaneh was the second athlete to drop off following a suspected side stitch.

The race for gold was now between Gebreslase and Korir. From 27km, the two would exchange their lead but Korir held the fort for most of the race to the dismay of the Kenyan who at one point encouraged her rival to take control of the race.

With less than ten minutes to the finish, Gebreslase made her move and pulled away from Korir to the dismay of Kenyans. The Ethiopian crossed the finish line at 2:18:11, setting a new championship record of 2:20:57 set by Paula Radcliffe of Britain in 2005. 

Korir came in second, in 2:18:20 followed by Kenyan-born Israeli Lonah Salpeter who claimed bronze in 2:20:18.