African athletes shine at World Champs Faith Kipyegon

OREGON. — It was a history making night for African athletes at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon on Monday as they dominated middle and long-distance events clinching three gold medals. 

Double Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon made history as the first woman to win four medals in the 1500m. Widely regarded as the greatest female miler of all time, Kipyegon reclaimed the title she lost in Doha in style with an impressive victory. 

Gudaf Tsegay set out hard and fast early in the race but the 28-year-old Kenyan tracked her all the way before kicking for home with 300m to go to win in 3:52.96. The Ethiopian came second in 3:54.52 while Great Britain’s Laura Muir won bronze. 

Kipyegon now has two World Championships golds and two silvers to add onto to her two Olympic gold medals as well as a slew of junior world titles in what is already a glittering career. In the men’s steeplechase, Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali cemented his status as the new king of the waters and barriers race after winning the title in 8:25.13. His victory in Oregon saw the Moroccan become the first non-Kenyan to hold both the Olympic and World titles at the same time. 

Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma again had to settle for silver in 8:26.01 while defending champion Conseslus Kipruto clinched bronze (8:27.92) as he continues his comeback from injury which saw him miss the Olympics last year. 

A conservative pace throughout the first six and a half laps meant that it would all boil down to a fast final lap with all the protagonists going for it. El Bakkali’s closing speed to was too much for the rest of the field and he cruised to victory to complete a set of world championship medals in the distance. 

Gotytom Gebreslase had set the ball rolling with a fantastic win in the women’s marathon earlier in the day. Running in only her third marathon, the 27 year old put on a late surge to clinch victory in a championship record time of 2:18:11. 

Kenya’s Judith Jeptum Korir ran a brilliant race to win silver in in 2:18:20 while Kenyan born Israeli Lonah Chemtai Salpeter gave her adopted nation its first ever medal in marathon after coming in third. 

Korir and Gebreslase matched each other stride for stride till the 40K mark when the Ethiopian surged away to victory. Korir had no answer and the Paris Marathon champion had to settle for silver in a new personal best time.

“I am very happy and I want to give all the glory to God. The Kenyan runner asked me to pass her, but I stayed patient. Towards 40km, I felt strong and decided to leave. Tola’s win yesterday motivated me a lot today. I did not know I was the first Ethiopian woman to win (the world title since 2015). All the credit goes to God,” said Gebreslase. — AFP

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