LONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 2 – Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon is determined to enter into history books as the first ever Kenyan to win women’s 1500m world title at the 2017 IAAF London World Championships that get underway on Friday in United Kingdom.
Kipyegon, who stormed to gold in Rio 2016 Olympics, only came close at the 2015 IAAF Beijing World Championships when she bagged silver behind world record holder Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba.
The only other Kenyan athlete to reach the podium finish is Hellen Obiri who settled for bronze at the 2013 IAAF Moscow World Championships before she transited to 5000m.
With six women having run faster than four minutes in 2017, the 1500m could prove to be one of the most competitive events of the London IAAF World championships.
Although far from clear cut, perhaps the three favourites come in the form of Kipyegon, world champion and world record-holder Genzebe and the Netherlands’ world indoor champion Sifan Hassan, who took bronze two years ago in Beijing.
The trio are the top three on the world list, all with sub-3:58 clockings in 2017 – and all have proven themselves as prolific major championship racers.
Kipyegon and Hassan have won two IAAF Diamond League meetings each this season – the former in Shanghai and Eugene and the latter in Rome and Paris – while Dibaba, who may not be in 3:50.07 world record form of two years ago, has clocked 3:57.82 en route to her 4:16.05 mile victory at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne last month.
Despite only boasting a season’s best of 4:00.35 – in part due to racing sparingly early season due to a foot injury – Britain’s Laura Muir is another medal contender.
After breaking Kelly Holmes’ British record with 3:55.22 in Paris last year, the Scot claimed four other national records from 1000m to 5000m in the space of just six months, before completing her 2017 indoor season with double gold over 1500m and 3000m at the European Indoor Championships.
She will be doubling up with the 5000m in London, but the 1500m comes first and does not overlap with the longer event.
An interesting entry in this event is twice world 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa. Despite a modest 1500m season’s best, with her 1:55.27 800m speed and her dominance in the two lap event this season, she could well be a force over the metric mile in London too, particularly if the race is tactical and comes down to a fast finish.
Kipyegon is joined on the Kenyan team by 2006 world U20 and 2005 world U18 silver medallist Winny Chebet, who has clocked 3:59.16 and came runner-up to Hassan in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome.
Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia has also shown good form in 2017, clocking a 3:59.55 PB when finishing a close third behind Hassan and Kipyegon in the Paris IAAF Diamond League meeting.
European under-23 champion Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany is another athlete to have broken four minutes in 2017 and has shown her major championships potential when finishing second to Muir at the European Indoor Championships.
Despite a modest season’s best of 4:02.57, US champion Jenny Simpson cannot be ruled out, as she is a fierce racer and has a fine record at major championships, having taken world gold in Daegu in 2011, as well as world silver in Moscow in 2013 and bronze in the Rio Olympics last year.
She will be aiming to become just the second woman in history, after two-time world champion Hassiba Boulmerka, to win three World Championships medals in the 1500m.
Other likely contenders include Sweden’s Meraf Bahta, Ethiopians Besu Sado and 18-year-old world U20 silver medallist Fantu Worku, Morocco’s Rababe Arafi and Poland’s Angelika Chichocka, who won the IAAF Diamond League Meeting in Rabat.