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Chepngetich strives for successful title defence

ATHLETICS By Dennis Okeyo and IAAF | October 5th 2019 | 2 min read
Netherlands' Sifan Hassan (C) competes in the Women's 1500m semi-final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on October 3, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

With her naturally vivacious personality coupled with her outstanding competitive record, Faith Chepngetich matched into today’s final after her fourth automatic placed finish in Thursday’s semi-finals at the ongoing worlds.

The world and Olympic 1500m champion, Chepngetich who timed 4:14.94 to advance to the final will have the company of Continental Cup champion Winny Chebet who easily qualified to the final with her 4:01.14 in fifth place.  

“I feel good about running this 1500m. I responded well on the track coming to the World Championships. I knew the competition would be tough. It was good to be in this heat with Sifan Hassan so I could see how strong she is. My opponents are in good shape, they did a lot of Diamond League meetings. But I am not intimidated,” said Chepngetich.

All the main contenders easily advanced but in a pair of contrasting semi-finals.

A pedestrian first semi-final of the women’s 1,500m saw all chief contenders draw upon their speed reserves to advance.

The field went through 800m at a crawl (2:28.24) but world leader Hassan, who is seeking the unusual 1500m and 10,000m double in Doha, successfully maneuvered through from the back of the field at the bell to power around the last lap to top spot in 4:14.69.

US champion Shelby Houlihan (4:14.91) was second. Morocco’s Rababe Arafi in 4:14.94 ahead defending Chepngetich in fourth. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean (4:15.73) shaded the fifth and final automatic qualification place by 0.24 from Great Britain’s Sarah McDonald.

A much faster second semi-final – thanks to the pacesetting efforts of 800m fourth place finisher Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda and Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay – saw the top seven progress to the medal race.

Former champion Jenny Simpson, courtesy of an eye-catching burst of speed on the inside rail, took out top spot in a swift 4:00.99. She was followed by Gabriela Debues-Stafford, just 0.05 adrift with the Canadian’s training partner and European champion Laura Muir just a tick behind in third. Tsegay was rewarded with fourth (4:01.12) with Kenya’s Chebet taking the fifth and final automatic spot.

Uganda's Nanyondo grabbed a place on time in 4:01.30 with American Nikki Hiltz carving almost two seconds from her PB in 4:01.52 taking the final time slot.

“My body has responded well. This has been a good year for me. I’ll see how my body is going to respond,” said Nanyondo.


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