Presenting queen of the moment: Faith Kipyegon

Thursday, December 21st, 2023 01:55 | By
Kipyegon shares a light moment with President William Ruto at State House Nairobi. PHOTO/David Ndolo and PSCU
Kipyegon shares a light moment with President William Ruto at State House Nairobi. PHOTO/David Ndolo and PSCU

Ladies and gentlemen, here is our queen of the track and the Greatest of All Time – Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon!

A Kenyan queen that has conquered the world in spectacular fashion. She continues to make her East African nation proud. And in the 2023 season her athletics script appears to have come straight from heaven.

A nation’s pride for her stunning achievement, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon, Kenya’s first female World Athlete of the Year, was honoured with the rank of Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart by President William Ruto during the National Jamuhuri Celebrations on December 11.

Her remarkable journey from running barefoot to breaking three world records within a year earned her the highest honour in the country.

“I have conferred upon our world-beating athlete Faith Kipyegon, the rank and status of the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart, the highest honour our country awards its citizens who illuminate the path of excellence,” announced President Ruto during his speech.

Kipyegon is no doubt the darling of Kenyans. From congratulatory messages from the President of the Republic of Kenya, to hit songs among local musicians praising her good shows, Kipyegon has certainly excited the Kenyan community and Africa as a whole.

She’s among global stars that World Athletics have their names inked in the annals of history for generations to come. At least every young budding athlete in Kenya would love to hit the level of Kipyegon in competitive running.

Not even the disciples could stop her insatiable hunger for glory – but only God. She is the undisputed top female athlete on the planet this year.

Such good performances have no doubt warmed the hearts of Kenyans and redeemed hopes 12 years after Vivian Cheruiyot – then in tip-top form, won the 2011 World Cross Country Championships title in Punta Umbria, Spain, and then chalked double (5000m and 10,000m) gold medals at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Sadly, she lost the World Athlete of the year award to Australian 400m hurdles athlete Sally Pearson - this raised a lot of eyebrows.

That came after world 800m record holder David Rudisha emerged as the first Kenyan to win the World Athlete of the Year title in 2010.

Daniel Kipng’etich Komen, who holds two world records (3000m outdoor and two miles), lost the coveted award by a single vote in 1996. World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge won it in 2018 and 2019. Now, Kipyegon has joined the club of World Athlete of the Year stars.

She had what it takes. From her smooth running with swift steps, the economical movement of the arms and a textbook distance running style; Kipyegon certainly wowed the global athletics scene.

Her blow-dried hair has remained her distinctive feature for some time. But that has featured prominently on three occasions – at the 2016 Olympic Games, 2017 World Athletics Championships, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games – save for a series of World Athletics Diamond League meetings across the globe.

It was a spectacular sight to behold when she became the first woman in the world to dip under 3:50 in 1500m – as she set the world record of 3:49.11 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Florence, Italy. Chepngétich has been dropping one second every year since 2021. That’s 3:51 in 2021, 3:50 in 2022 and 3:49 this year.

But there are so many incredible things about Chepngétich’s impressive showing in the 1500m. She took almost a full second off the old record held by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba. She produced brilliant closing splits of 2:00.6 for 800m, 58.9 seconds for 400m, and 29.2 seconds for 200m. That made her own half of the 14 fastest performances in the race’s history.

Like many other world-beating female athletes returning from maternity leave, Chepngétich has been in imperious form since giving birth in 2018.

Other top stars to have staged impressive comebacks after maternity leaves include 2018 London Marathon winner Vivian Cheruiyot, Boston Marathon winner Hellen Obiri, Britain’s former world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, and Ethiopia’s track assassin Tirunesh Dibaba.

Kipyegon has made history as the first three-time world champion in 1500m and, at best, a double world champion. With three world records – 1500m, 5000m, and the Mile - set within 50 days this season, she stands out as the best athlete this season.

She broke the 5000m world record at the Paris Diamond League meet on June 9 in a new time of 14:05.20 before she descended on the one-mile record of 4:07.64 at the Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 21. 

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