Faith Kipyegon suffers first-season loss as Jepchirchir, Sawe win gold in Riga
Faith Kipyegon suffered her first loss of the season after she finished third in the mile during the World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga on Sunday, October 1, 2023.
Kipyegon, based on her impressive season performances cutting across the Diamond League series and the Budapest World Athletics Championship in August, had been tipped to win the mile, but Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji won the title in a world record of 4:20.98.
Welteji won her first senior title as her compatriot Freweyni Hailu got the silver when she finished in 4:23.06, compared to Kipyegon's 4:24.13.
Kipyegon was making her road mile debut, and signs of another victory for her looked possible as she began the race and went straight to the front.
But as she led, Welteji, Hailu, and her Kenyan compatriot Nelly Chepchirchir also showed intent on winning the title as they raced toe-to-toe.
Kipyegon and Welteji enjoyed a slight gap ahead of their rivals after one kilometre. The leading pack was two seconds ahead at that point, passing the 1km mark in 2:41.00.
But Kipyegon was staring at her first season loss as they raced towards the finish line. Welteji passed the Kenyan superstar as they ran by the central landmark.
This victory means Welteji won her first senior world title in 4:20.98, improving on the inaugural road mile record of 4:27.97 set by Nikki Hiltz in Des Moines in April.
Chepchirchir ended up finishing fourth in 4:31.18, and she was followed closely by Australia’s Jess Hull, who was fifth in 4:32.45.
Sawe, Jepchirchir's gold
Meanwhile, Sebastian Sawe lifted Kenya's third gold in the championship being held in the Latvian capital. Sawe led a Kenyan unit that enjoyed a podium finish as Daniel Wanyonyi and Samuel Mailu finished second and third, respectively.
Finally, another podium finish for Kenya was made possible by the stellar unit that battled in the women's half marathon.
Peres Jepchirchir emerged as the winner as she beat highly competitive compatriots to lift gold.
The gold winner finished the race in 1:07:25, Margaret Chelimo clinched silver in 1:07:26, and Catherine Reline won bronze in 1:07:34.