Kenyans on tenterhooks as Faith Kipyegon takes on Dutch speed machine Sifan Hassan in 1,500m final today

Friday, August 6th, 2021 00:00 | By
Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon.

Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon is expecting fireworks when she takes on world champion Sifan Hassan in today’s final.

The race is one of the eagerly awaited clashes at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The finals are set for 3.50pm Kenyan time. Kipyegon will be aiming to retain the title she won five years ago in Rio while Hassan of the Netherlands will be looking to snatch yet another title from Kipyegon.

Hassan wrestled the world title from Kipyegon two years ago in Doha, shortly after Kipyegon made her comeback from a maternity break.

Kipyegon who has been in a resurgent form is also looking to be the second woman to achieve back-to-back titles at the Olympic Games in 1,500m.

“As a  defending champion I will be lying if I say  I don’t feel some pressure ahead of the final. My prayer is to successfully defend the title I won in Rio,” said Kipyegon.

The 27-year-old recently edged Hassan after a scintillating performance at the Monaco Diamond League earlier this month, the final outing for the pair before the Tokyo Games.

“I know she (Sifan) is feeling bad since I beat her in Monaco. For me I want revenge having lost the world title to her in 2019,” she added.

During the semifinals on Tuesday, Kipyegon clocked the fastest time of 3:56.80  to book the finals.

Hassan won her semifinal in 4:00.23 to continue her pursuit of an unprecedented treble in 1,500m and 10,000m after winning gold in the 5,000m.

“I am much better than I was in Doha. Delaying the Games has worked for me. Now I pray that my form will count in the final,” added the Kenyan national record holder.

Ethiopian Freweyni Freweyni and Ugandan Winnie Nanyondo are the other African finalists.

kicked in the Premier League was on March 9 and it will not return until June at the earliest, with Liverpool’s title coronation on hold for now.

After such a long and unexpected lay-off, league bosses are hoping there will be an insatiable demand for their product.

Allowing fans to buy “virtual season tickets” to watch every match live has even been mooted as an idea to help mitigate the loss of matchday income.

But the University of Brighton’s Mark Doidge agrees with Scudamore that the essence of what makes the Premier League special might be lost.

“Short-term there might be people who want to watch games on television,” said Doidge, a senior research fellow at the School of Sport and Service Management.

“But I think the novelty will wear off very quickly when you realise that actually a large part of what drives the game is not just the people on the pitch, but the people in the stands.”

Doidge said players and fans feed off the collective, emotional energy in English stadiums.

“That collective atmosphere is part and parcel of what the game is,” he said. “If they haven’t got that to feed off, is the quality of football going to be there and ultimately will the televisual experience be there?”

Premier League clubs are reportedly already making contingency plans to play out the whole of the 2020/21 season behind closed doors.

Yet, it remains to be seen if there will be any demand for such a deluge of sanitised matches from armchair supporters, TV companies and even players.

“It’s a strange situation not having the fans there. That’s what makes football, that’s what makes the atmosphere,” Tottenham and England midfielder Harry Winks told the BBC.

“It’s not something that I like and I know a lot of players feel the same way. It’s not something that anybody really wants to do.”

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