Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich added yet another silverware to her collection when she handed Kenya its first ever women’s World 1,500m title at the Olympic Stadium on Monday.
The history-making Chepng’etich staged an explosive but tactical race when she overtook Dutch Sifan Hassan just before the home straight to triumph in 4 minutes and 02.59 seconds.
Chepng’etich, the athlete from Keringet, Nakuru, edged out USA’s Jenniffer Simpson to silver in 4:02.76 as Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya from South Africa claimed bronze in 4:02.90.
Home athlete Laura Muir came in fourth in 4:02.97 as Hassan sunk to fifth in 4:03.34.
It was a thrilling and previous upgrade for 23-year-old Chepng’etich, who won silver at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, having finished fifth on her World Championships debut in 2013 Moscow.
Chepng’etich stayed behind leader Muir as they passed through 400m and 800m at 1:05.34 and 2:17.11 before Hassan injected some pace to the race to go past the 1200m mark in 3:18.93.
Chepng’etich, who is the 2011 World Youth and 2012 World Junior 1,500m champion, stepped on the gas pedal to zoom past the fading Hassan just before the home straight for her seventh medal from several world events, her second gold within a year of winning at Rio Olympics.
Defending champion Genzebe Dibaba from Ethiopia finished 12th and last in 4:06.72.
Besides Chepng’etich, the only other Kenyan who has a medal in the metric mile race from the World Championships is the Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri, who claimed bronze at the 2013 Moscow.
Before going to London, Chepng’etich has settled sixth at the World Cross Country Championships in March in Kampala, having won the World Cross junior titles in 2011 Punta Umbria and 2013 Bydgoszcz.
“I knew it will be a tough race and all I wanted was to go for it especially after I was left alone in the final,” said Chepng’etich, who gave Kenya its second gold medal, a day after another athlete from Keringet, Geoffrey Kirui reclaimed for Kenya the men’s marathon title.
“It was a highly tactical duel hence I was not ready to give up even when Hassan injected pace to the race. In fact, the high pace favoured me,” said Chepng’etich. “I was ready for any drama in the race whether at high pace or slow.”
Chepng’etich called for a free, fair and peaceful election as the country goes to polls on Tuesday. “I hope my victory will also bring Kenyans together at the polls,” said Chepng’etich, who thanked Kenyans for their message of support before her race. “Their morale support did the magic.”