NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17- Commonwealth champion Faith Kipyegon produced a startling last-lap sprint to outpace overwhelming favourite world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia to win women’s Olympic 1500m gold in Rio de Janeiro early Wednesday morning.
Kipyegon, 22, pulled off from Dibaba in the final 200m, putting up a heart throbbing pace to power into the finish line in 4:08.92 and with 50m to go, it was evident that the Ethiopian who has battled injury this season would play second fiddle.
Kipyegon, the fastest athlete over 1500m this year rolled on the blue track of the Olympic Stadium in Rio, burst into tears of joy at the finish line as Dibaba stood hands akimbo, looking at the big screen shaking her head and wondering where the rain started beating her.
“I knew it would be a fast race, I really had to kick on the last lap,” said the 22-year-old Kipyegon. “I was well prepared for the race. I’m proud to win for my country.”
It was sweet revenge for Kipyegon who had lost to Dibaba in the world championship last year in Beijing and from her reaction, the medal meant a lot to her.
The Ethiopian settled for silver in 4:10.27 while 2011 World Champion Jeniffer Simpson won the United States’ first ever Olympic medal over the distance finishing third in a time of 4:10.53.
It was a pedestrian start to the race but once Kipyegon and Dibaba bolted off the rest of the pack with two laps to go, it was always destined to be an epic end and a mammoth fight for the gold medal.
The duo had sat back for the first lap and a half with Dibaba leading the push once the duo decided to give the race a surge.
At the bell, Dibaba pulled clear of Kipyegon but the Kenyan showed her superb form this season, engaging a higher gear to stretch past the Ethiopian on the back straight and head to the final 100m firmly in the lead.
Dibaba’s attempt to fight back was futile as Kipyegon grew stronger every inch closer to the finish line.
It was the third gold for Kenya that came just a day after world record holder David Rudisha retained his men’s 800m tittle while Jemima Sumgong handed Kenya the first gold in the women’s marathon.