Athletics Athletics

Kipyegon qualifies for 1500m final to set up Dibaba duel

Faith Kipyegon competes in the women's 1500m heats in Rio de Janeiro. PHOTO/ZIMBIO
Faith Kipyegon competes in the women’s 1500m heats in Rio de Janeiro. PHOTO/ZIMBIO

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15 – Commonwealth Games champion Faith Kipyegon won her semi-final heat in 4:03.95 to progress to the final of the women’s 1500m at the Rio Olympics and set up a clash with world record holder Genzebe Dibaba early Wednesday morning.

Dibaba won the second semi in a time of 4:03.06 showing her intent to add on an Olympic medal to her World Championship title despite her injury ridden season.

Kenya’s other representative in the race Violah Lagat finished 6th in the second semi won by Dibaba and failed to make the cut to the final with only the top five finishers and best two losers making it into the finale.

Kipyegon, 22, who has three among the top six world leads this year will hope to exert some revenge on Dibaba who beat her in the World Championships last year in Beijing, China.

Having sat in the middle of the pack in the opening 700m of her heat, Kipyegon bolted into the front with two laps to go and maintained the same up to the bell.

Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum attempted to push her off for the top spot from the back straight in the final lap, but Kipyegon could not accept to play second fiddle and took on a higher gear, showing the Ethiopian World Indoor silver medalist a clean pair of heels to win the race.

USA’s Shannon Brewbury ran a season’s best time of 4:04.46 to finish third and qualify alongside Ethiopia’s Besu Sado and Great Briton Laura Weightman.

Dibaba looked in decent shape in her heat, bolting off the rest of the pack at the bell having sat back and watched the rest in the opening two-and-a-half laps.

Ethiopian-turned-Dutch woman Sifan Hassan finished behind Dibaba in the second fastest qualifying time of 4:03.62.

Kipyegon will look to upset the World Champion especially with her current form, having won at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Shanghai and Eugene with respective times of 3:56.82 and 3:56.41, both national records as well as the mile in Oslo in 4:18.60.