Faith Kipyegon stuns Dibaba for Kenya’s third gold
A nation that was not expecting to explode to a golden Wednesday morning simply did not have the faith.
Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon however, had other ideas after she put together one of, if not the upset of the track and field at the Rio 2016 Olympics when she stunned Ethiopia’s world champion and runaway favourite, Genzebe Dibaba in the women 1500m at the Joao Havelange Stadium as she took a leap of faith to greatness.
The two-time world junior champion and Beijing 2015 Worlds silver medallist did what many of her compatriots have suffered at the hands of Ethiopians by climbing on a bike with 200m to go before scorching the finish out of one of the youngest member of the Dibaba distance running dynasty.
The amazed Kenyan was soon overjoyed as she accepted the congratulations of beaten Dibaba who took the silver in 4:10.27 in a reversal of the finishing order from Beijing. Britain’s Jennifer Simpson rounded the podium in 4:10.53 thanks to a furious homestretch drive.
“I did not believe I could win and I thank God so much for winning here in Rio. It is my first Olympics medal. I knew Genzebe would go from the last 800m and I knew she would go out fast. I had prepared well for Rio and I was ready for any medal.
“I thank my coach and I ask Kenyans to celebrate and to continue to pray for me. I did not have any difficulty with the race because we went out slowly and I knew we would finish fast. I was confident on any outcome because I had prepared for it, whether we went fast or slow,” the elated gold medallist said at the mixed zone.
She then dedicated the top medal to her boyfriend.
The national record holder stopped the clock at 4:08.93, in what until the bell was a forgettable display of pedestrian running not fit for an Olympics final although it served up a conclusion that will be etched in the memory for ages.
American Shannon Rowbury and Britain’s Laura Weightman, who also competed in the 1500m at the 2012 London Games from which six of the top nine finishers have since been disqualified for doping, took up the early pace and it was slow.
With two laps to go at the Olympic Stadium, world champion Dibaba surged to the front, the field immediately strung out with the added pace.
-Through the bell-
Dibaba held her lead through the bell for the final lap, crossing 1200m at 3:23.90 still ahead but was expertly reeled in with under 250 metres to go by Chepng’etich.
The 22-year-old Kenyan pulled level with and then away from the Ethiopian in an incredible display of finishing.
Dibaba, who after breaking the world indoor mile record and winning the world indoor 3000m title at the start of the year was forced to delay the start to her outdoor campaign due to a troublesome toe injury, began to tie up as the line approached.
But the 25-year-old just managed to hold on for silver from 2011 world champion Simpson, whose bronze was the United States’ first ever Olympic medal in this event.
Her bolt from the blue tartan of the Joao Havelange stadium saw her country’s medal tally shoot to three gold and three silver with the athlete who schooled at the aptly name Winners High in Nakuru entering Kenyan history books as the second female 1500m Olympic champion after pioneering Nancy Jebet Langat won the metric mile title at Beijing 2008.
Jemimah Jelagat Sumgong landed Kenya’s first gold in the women’s marathon on Sunday before David ‘The King’ Rudisha held on to his men 800m crown a day later.
Vivian Cheruiyot (women 10000m), Paul Tanui (men 10000m) and Hyvin Kiyeng (women 3000m steeplechase) have settled for the silver lining thus far.
- 950 Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon KEN 4:08.92
- 643 Genzebe Dibaba ETH 4:10.27
- 1372 Jennifer Simpson USA 4:10.53
- 1370 Shannon Rowbury USA 4:11.05
- 1032 Sifan Hassan NED 4:11.23
- 1222 Meraf Bahta SWE 4:12.59
- 710 Laura Muir GBR 4:12.88
- 648 Dawit Seyaum ETH 4:13.14
- 647 Besu Sado ETH 4:13.58
- 1095 Sofia Ennaoui POL 4:14.72