Faith lays down early marker ahead of Olympics
ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | July 11th 2021
It’s all about keeping the faith. And it now remains to be seen if Faith Chepng’etich will carry her tip top form to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Going into Friday’s 1500m at the EBS Herculis meeting in Monaco, world champion Sifan Hassan announced that she had asked for a pace of 61-second laps, which would add up to a second or so under the current world record of 3:50.07.
The Dutchwoman has set world records twice previously in Monaco, most recently over the mile two years ago, and she was feeling confident after rediscovering her love for the metric mile with a victory over Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich at the Diamond League meeting in Florence last month.
Hassan even floated the idea of adding the 1500m back into her Olympic schedule, having previously declared that she would attempt the 5000m-10,000m double.
She locked in behind the pacemaker from the beginning, her ambition obvious. Only Chepng’etich and Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu dared to follow and the race was down to three when they reached the bell.
Hassan then turned the screws, but Chepng’etich clung to her like a limpet down the back straight as the Dutchwoman stretched out her legs for the run home.
In the past three years races have inevitably gone Hassan’s way in this situation, her unmatched mix of speed and endurance proving irresistible. But not this time.
As they entered the final straight Chepng’etich kicked hard, dashing past her rival and sprinting down the straight to win in 3:51.07, a Kenyan record and the fourth fastest time in history. In the last 90m she put two-and-a-half seconds into Hassan, who finished in 3:53.60, with Hailu third in a personal best of 3:56.28.
Despite her recent losses to Hassan, Chepng’etich said she remained confident that her day would come.
“I knew Sifan was going for a fast race and my goal was to run a fast race here and I thank God that was,” she said.
World 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot was also a man on a mission.
With his Olympic dreams hanging in the balance, the world 1500m champion dashed to the fastest time in the world for six years.
Cheruiyot finished fourth at the Olympic trials last month.
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