Keep the Faith – Kipyegon bags gold at World Championships
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon won a historic third world 1500m gold on Tuesday and although Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim missed out on a fourth crown, he became the first man to win five medals in the event.
Kipyegon produced an imperious front-running performance to add to her 2017 and 2022 titles, her face creasing in joy as realisation of her feat struck home.
Sifan Hassan never landed a punch and once again, as at the Tokyo Olympics, had to make do with bronze.
For Kipyegon, 29, it crowned an annus mirabilis having already broken three world records.
“I told myself, ‘You are the strongest and just keep going’,” said Kipyegon.
“I was chasing history today and I was chasing this title. I have done it.”
Barshim tried to rouse the crowd at the National Athletics Centre as he went for his third and final attempt at 2.36m as the women’s 1500m final reached its final stages.
But just as the women’s race was a bit flat due to Kipyegon’s sublime brilliance so Barshim’s challenge for a fourth successive world crown ended as a damp squib, the Qatari bowing out at 2.33m.
He took bronze whilst victory instead went to the man with whom he shared Olympic gold in Tokyo, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi (2.36m).
“I consider this bronze as history,” Barshim told AFP.
“In any competition, our ambition is gold and victory, but this is sport.
“With this bronze, I became the only athlete in the history of the high jump to win five medals in the world championships and I am very proud.”
There was a repeat victory in the men’s steeplechase.
Morocco’s Olmypic champion Soufiane El Bakkali left Ethiopia’s world record holder Lamecha Girma trailing as the 27-year-old champion crossed the line in 8min 03.53sec.
Kipyegon, Tamberi and El Bakkali then all celebrated by jumping into the steeplechase water jump, something to be envied by the spectators who sat in sweltering heat throughout the evening.
Another Olympic champion, American Valarie Allman, looked downcast as her less celebrated teammate Laulauga Tausaga improved her personal best by more than four metres to win with 69.49m.
Allman improved from her bronze last year to silver but the look on her face suggested it was little consolation.
“I don’t know if I have a fairy godmother or something, or my ancestors had some say in it, but I was able to do something tonight that I didn’t think was possible yet,” said 25-year-old Tausaga.
– ‘These dangerous times’ –
Femke Bol looks in the form to replace the absent Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone as 400m hurdles world champion, sauntering through to Thursday’s final (1950GMT).
A victory would see the 23-year-old Dutch hurdler complete a full set of medals having taken Olympic bronze and world silver last year.
The final, though, will be missing 2016 Olympic and 2019 world champion Dalilah Muhammad, who finished third behind Bol and failed to go through as one of the two fastest losers.
“In the last 100 metres I gave it my all but I knew it wasn’t going to be enough,” said Muhammad.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet that I won’t make the final but it was all a bit of a Hail Mary to be honest,” added the 33-year-old.
A similar fate befell another former world champion, Steven Gardiner, in the 400m, the 27-year-old Olympic gold medallist crashing to the track and eventually escorted off in a wheelchair.
Gardiner’s predecessor as Olympic champion, Wayde Van Niekerk, only just scraped into the final as one of the two fastest losers.
Van Niekerk said he was disappointed by his performance but his thoughts were with Gardiner as he knows how tough it is to cope with injury having suffered a serious one himself.
“It is not so nice to see somebody finishing a competition injured like that,” said the 31-year-old South African.
“I know that coming back from the injury is very difficult.
“I still remember all these dangerous times. I really want to wish him a speedy recovery.”