Incredible journey of Kuresoi girl to Olympic gold

It was jubilation and celebration in Kuresoi Sub County in Nakuru County when Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon won the 1,500 meters women’s race in the early hours of Wednesday at the Rio Olympics in Brazil but the feat has taken over 5 years in the making.

Chepngetich took her first Olympic gold medal after posting a time of 4: 08.92 seconds ahead of Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba (4:10.27) and American Jennifer Simpson (4:10.53).

The athlete who hails from Keringet in Kuresoi secured her second major medal after she won silver over the same distance at last year's World Championships in Beijing China as a senior athlete.

However, the athlete is better known for her feats as a junior athlete where she dominated both 6 kilometers world cross country races and 1500 meters track races before joining senior ranks in 2012 where she also had a less memorable debut in the 2012 London Olympics.

It was on Tuesday evening the 13th August 2013 when she finished second in her semifinal to qualify for the final of 1500 meters in the women’s race during the World athletics championships at Luzhniki Olympic stadium in Moscow Russia. No one thought that the petite 19 years old from Kuresoi district could be much of a sport to any of the experienced athletes she would be competing with in the finals two days later.

But the lady who was named in 2012 as the outstanding youth and junior athlete of the decade was on her second major championship as a senior since the Olympics in London failing to qualify for the semis after she finished 9th in her heats despite leading the field for the first two laps in the event was not to be bullied into submission this time round.

At the finals Chepng’etich finished fifth with a time of 4:05.08 in the race won by Swedish Ethiopian born Abeba Aregawi in a time of 4:02.67 while the Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri came home with bronze with a time of 4:03:86.

With all said and done Faith’s finishing time at Moscow was impressive but much slower than the time she placed in Doha Qatar of 3:56.98 in May 10th 2014.

When I got up with her after the Olympics debacle and asked her what had transpired during the event she told me, “that is over and it is what I want to put behind me and proceed with other races ahead of me.” She said with resolve to improve her senior races.

Faith Chepng’etich Kipyego was born on 10th January 1994 at Chebaraa village in Keringet Location in Kuresoi district.

She has had impressive performances since she burst into athletics limelight in 2010. Then she was only known for running bare footed and winning races. Some of her best performances are as follows; on 17th June 2010 she posted a time of 4:17.01 in Nairobi Kenya; on 9th July 2011 she posted a time of 4:09.48 in Lille France; on 19th May she clocked 4:03.82 in Shanghai China and finally on May 10th 2013 she posted her best time yet at 3:56.98 in Doha Qatar all these over the 1500 meters track events.

Her junior career was one of the most impressive leading her to being named the outstanding youth and junior athlete of the decade in 2012.

During the 38th IAAF world cross country championships in Bydgoszcz Poland on 28thMarch 2010 she emerged fourth with a time of 19:02 in the 6km event. A year later, in Punta Umbria Spain during the 39th IAAF world cross country championships on 20th March 2011 she won Gold at an improved time of 18:53.

At the last cross she ran as a junior athlete she also won with a more improved time of 17:51 on 24th March 2013. This was at the 40th   IAAF world cross country championships held at the Myslecinek Park in Bydgoszcz Poland.

In her 1500m career, Faith started her conquest during the 7th IAAF world youth championship with a win in Lille France on 9th July 2011 getting a time of 4:09.48.

At 14th IAAF world junior championships in Barcelona Spain on 15th July 2012, she emerged victorious with a time of 4:04.96 and placed her on a fair position as she headed for a start of her senior career later that year.

It was at the 30th Olympic games held in London in August 2012 that she finally made her debut as a senior and failed to proceed further than heats stages in the 1500m event where she finished 9th in a heat that she had dominated in the first 2 laps as a leader before she drifted to the backlines. However, she was not demoralized and stated that that was over but she had learnt her lesson and that she was focusing on more races ahead.

This might have helped her a lot when she succeeded to race up to the finals of the 2014 World athletics championships in Moscow Russia.

Faith Chepng’etich Kipyego was one of the three athletes from Kuresoi district to participate in 2012 London Olympics. She participated in 1500m. The other was Isaiah Kiplang’at Koech who ran in the 5000m race. He also won a bronze medal in 2014 world athletics championships in Russia. The former student of Silibwet Secondary in Kuresoi was seen to be one of the athletes that could dethrone British Mo Farah in 5000m. The competition between the two is still on with Caleb Nduku, a team mate giving each other a boost as they participate in this year’s Olympics.

The other Kuresoi Olympian in 2012 was Cherono Koech from Sirikwa who participated in 800m race.

For Chepng’etich to finally win an Olympic gold is a feat that has come with great determination and patience and as a Kenyan I give her my congratulations.