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It can only get better for Kipchoge and Faith

ATHLETICS By JONATHAN KOMEN | November 25th 2021
Eliud Kipchoge after winning gold in men’s marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. [AP]

World 1500m champion Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon and two-time Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge made it to the final shortlists for World Athlete of the Year awards set for Wednesday, next week.

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.

Kipyegon, 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.

Kipyegon 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 Olympics.

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

She 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.

August 6, 2021. Faith Kipyegon of Kenya celebrates winning the gold medal REUTERS

Kipchoge won the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, The Netherlands, in April, beating 45 world class marathoners who were seeking to qualifying 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.

In the rising stars category, Kenya’s 800m specialist Emmanuel Wanyonyi and Ethiopian long-distance runner Tadese Worku were also shortlisted.

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-20s athlete.

Winners of the awards will be named at a virtual ceremony on Wednesday.


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