Kenyans have faith in Chepngetich and Kipchoge as World Athletics gala is held



Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Women's 1500m - Final - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 6, 2021. Faith Kipyegon of Kenya celebrates winning gold [Reuters, Kai Pfaffenbach]

World and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon and two-time Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge are among global stars lined up for World Athlete of the Year awards tonight.

The two, who train under Dutchman Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communication alongside Uganda’s Olympic 5,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei, are the three Africans shortlisted among the 10 finalists.

In the rising stars category, Kenya’s 800m specialist Emmanuel Wanyonyi is also in the mix.

Wanyonyi, at the age of 17, won gold at the Under-20 World Championships on home soil as he set the fastest time of the year for an Under-20 athlete.

Ten awards will be presented at the World Athletics Awards 2021 in a virtual ceremony, which will begin at 8pm Kenyan time and will be streamed live on the World Athletics YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The event will be hosted by marathon great Paula Radcliffe and long jump star Jazmin Sawyers.

Chepngetich, 27, won the Olympic 1500m title in August, becoming only the third woman to retain her title after becoming a mother in-between the Games.

She won the World Athletics Diamond League trophy and set the national 1500m record.

She enjoyed a near-perfect season in 1500m in what excited athletics fans, given she overcame strong challenge from Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan. That stood as one of the showstoppers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

She suffered her only defeat this year when she lost to Hassan at the Diamond League meeting in Florence, Italy.

The Kenyan won the Monaco meeting with a world-leading national record of 3:51.07 – just one second shy of the world record – and then notched up victories at the Olympics with a Games record of 3:53.11 and at the Diamond League final in Zurich.

In 2011, Vivian Cheruiyot narrowly missed the crown as she lost to Australia’s 400m hurdler Sally Pearson.

Already, a two-time World Athlete of the Year, Kipchoge, 36, won the men’s marathon title at the Olympics, furthering his domination of the event.

Kipchoge won the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, The Netherlands, in April, beating 45 world class marathoners who were seeking to qualify for Tokyo Olympic Games. He won by almost two minutes in 2:04:30.

He went ahead to retain his Olympic title, winning 80 seconds ahead of his nearest opponent – the largest winning margin in a men’s Olympic marathon since 1972.

Not only does the Kenyan hold the world record but the two-time Olympic gold medallist is also the only man to have run the distance in under two hours, in assisted conditions in 2019.

Cheptegei’s nomination came after a year in which the 25-year-old became the 5,000m Olympic champion and also won 10,000m silver in Tokyo.

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