2019 in Review: ‘Golden girl’ Chepkoech showed grit to win gold at Doha Worlds
Review, Caro Kones
A mistake at the water jump that cost Kenya’s 3,000m steeplechase queen Beatrice Chepkoech not to win the 2017 world championship in London motivated her to attempt the world record and aim for the 2019 event in Doha, which turned out be her highlight of year 2019.
Simply put, after heartaches in 2017 and 2018 , 2019 turned out to be a year of bountiful harvest for the 28-year-old as she opened her account with a 10km race at the World Cross Country Championship in Aarhus, Denmark but only managed a seventh place finish!
That did not dampen her morale though setting her sights on the diamond league season which was to act as her preparations for the Worlds in Doha, Qatar.
“I was looking for speed endurance towards world record. The more I attend races, the more I get courage and also to keep my speed and energy,” she said back then after the Doha heroics
In July 2018, Chepkoech shaved eight seconds off the women’s world record in the 3,000m steeplechase, winning the IAAF Diamond League Monaco race in 8.44.32.
“When I saw that I had missed the world championships and Diamond League finals, I came home and made up my mind to start training for the world record. I knew Monaco will be the deal due to weather conditions which were favourable. It took me only six months and that plan worked well,” said the Queen of Steeplechase.
A month later in Africa Championships in Asaba Nigeria, Chepkoech lead team Kenya to sweep the podium by clocking 8.59.85 ahead of Cellephine Chespol and Fancy Cherono.
She then qualified to compete at the IAAF Continental Cup, which were held in Ostrava, the Czech Republic in September 2018, and left no stone unturned by winning the race in a time of 9.07.92.
It was to be the first of three meeting records that Chepkoech would break on the Road to the Final, as she later clocked 8:55.58 in Stanford and 9:05.55 in Birmingham.
The world record holder suffered a minor setback in her second appearance of the season when compatriot Norah Jeruto took a shock victory in Oslo in June, but Chepkoech found her feet quickly and remained unbeaten up until the final at the end of August.
In Zurich, she soared to a comfortable win in 9:01.71 to defend her title and was not afraid of fatigue at all as she went for world championship in Doha, Qatar a few weeks later.
“I was controlling because I knew I was heading for the Championship, I did not want to put in a lot of energy in Zurich now that I wanted to win the World Championship having missed in 2017,” she said.
At the Worlds in Doha, Chepkoech showed her intent early easily winning from the qualifiers but her mark was made in the final, where she led from start to finish opening up a 50m gap in the final rounds recording a time of 8.57.84 rectifying a mistake that cost her a place on the podium two years ago.
“I had mastered each and everyone’s race in Diamond League that’s why in World Championship I had to run infront of them because I knew the moment I am ahead no one will overtake me, everyone else will run their own races,” added Chepkoech.
But the year ended rather badly for her as IAAF now renamed World Athletics axed the 3,000m steeplechase from Diamond League dealing a hammer blow to a discipline of her specialty.
“I was so surprised since I only specialize in steeplechase, it will kill our careers, I will have to move to 1,500m and 3,000m races or move to the road races starting with 10km,”she explained.
Chepkoech is now shifting gears to Olympics next year, being the only medal she misses in her medal haul.
“I have the following titles: World Record, World Championship and World Championship Record, my aim now is the Olympics record and hopefully winning it. I am preparing to see if I can reduce my record may be to 8.38 or 8.40,” she concluded.
The summer Olympics is scheduled to take place from 24th July to 9th August 2020 in Tokyo, Japan with the trials slated for 19th – 21st June in Kipchoge Stadium, Uasin Gishu County.