World Athletics Championships: Will defending champions bring back gold?

Silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot, of Kenya AP

Kenya’s five defending champions will line up at the 18th World Athletics Championships that start at Hayward Field inside University of Oregon in Eugene, USA, on Friday.

World champions in Conseslus Kipruto (3,000m steeplechase), Timothy Cheruiyot (1,500m), Beatrice Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase), Hellen Obiri (5,000m) and Ruth Chepngétich (marathon) will defend their titles -save for Obiri who will compete in 10,000m.

Here, Standard Sports takes a look at the stars, who seem to not in their top form. Obiri will compete in 10,000m.

Timothy Cheruiyot

Timothy Cheruiyot, the 2019 winner at the World Championships in Doha and second at the national trials, will marshal forces with Abel Kipsang, who holds the fastest time (3:31.01) set at the Kip Keino Classic meet in Nairobi this season. He will defend his 1,500m.

Not bad for a man who rose from a rural boy at Kibungot Village in Bomet to world’s 1500m stardom –what with the instant promotion at the Kenya Prisons Service.

Ruth Chepng’etich

The marathoner is the fastest in the Oregon 2022 marathon field and she will, on Monday be launching her quest for a second title – another gold medal on her wall cabinet.

In March this year, Chepng’etich posted the second-fastest ever women-only marathon time at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in Japan - World Athletics Elite Platinum Label where she clinched the title in. She ran a 2:17:18 course record.

Kenya's Ruth ChepngetichKenya afp

On Monday, she will be facing six under 2:20 women in Oregon. They are; Ashete Kekere of Ethiopia (2:17:58), Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia, 2:18:18), her compatriot Angela Tanui (2:17:57), Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (Israel, 2:17:45), Keira D’amato (USA, 2:19:12) and Judith Jeptum Korir of Kenya (2:19:48).

Chepng’etich sent a strong message to the world last season. She demonstrated that she was worth a world champion after winning Chicago marathon and setting a new 21km world record at the Istanbul half marathon. She placed third at the London Marathon last October.

Hellen Obiri

She is a two-time world champion (back-to-back) and she is going to Eugene, Oregon for a third gold medal.

Obiri flew the country’s flag at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships in London, UK and Doha, Qatar respectively and delivered historic victories. She out-kicked Almaz Ayana and Sifan Hassan in London and compatriot Margaret Chelimo (silver) and Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany (bronze) in Doha over 5,000m.

 August 3, 2021. Silver medallist Hellen Obiri of Kenya poses on the podium with her medal REUTERS

From late last year, the Kenyan queen of 5000m displayed stellar performances on the roads, winning this year’s edition of Istanbul half marathon and placing second at the Ras Al Khaimah 21km.

Obiri had represented the country in both 5000m and 10,000m events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic in Japan last year where brought home a silver medal (in 5000m), finishing behind Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands. She finished fourth in 10,000m final.

She is taking to Oregon 2022, an impressive 5000m CV, but she has to contend with a number of stars from Ethiopia and other countries as she chases the 10,000m title. Ethiopians Ejgayehu Taye and Letesnbet Gidey will also be seeking world titles

Beatrice Chepkoech

She is the current world record holder in water and barrier event, having timed 8:44.32 in 2018. With that time she became the first woman to break the 8:50 and 8:45 barriers.

She will be carrying Kenya’s hopes of a title in the steeplechase.

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech celebrates after winning in the Women's 3000m Steeplechase final at the 2019 AFP

Chepkoech will be teaming with decorated compatriots in defence of the world title and maybe, a clean medal sweep.

They comprise reigning and former world Under-20 3000m steeplechase champions and Jackline Chepkoech and Celliphine Chespol respectively. Chespol won the world Under-20 title in 2018 while Chepkoech reigned supreme in Nairobi last year. Former 3000m steeplechase commonwealth champion Purity Kirui is also in the Kenyan team.

Chepkoech broke the women’s 5km road world record (mixed race) in a time of 14 minutes 43 seconds at the Morocco Run in February last year. .

Conseslus Kipruto

Gold medallist Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 3000m Steeplechase at the 2019 AFP

He won the 3,000m steeplechase title in 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Kipruto will join forces with Commonwealth Games silver medalist Abraham Kibiwott, Olympic bronze medalist Benjamin Kigen and Olympian Leornard Bett as they seek to dethrone Morocco’s Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali and Ethiopia’s silver medalist Lamecha Girma, who ended Kenya’s 52 years of dominance in the race at the Tokyo Olympic Games.


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