Cheers. Ululations. Hugs. Speeches...more speeches.
Double Olympic and World Champion Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon knew she had done the unthinkable when she set new times in 1500m and 5000m in a week.
Yesterday, the World Record assassin received a heroic reception at State House, where President William Ruto announced a reward of Sh5 million and a house valued at Sh6 million, for the historic shows the athlete set in Florence (on June 2) and Paris (June 9) Diamond League meets.
Indeed, this was a day of celebrations, more celebrations.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba and Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja were at hand to receive the icon at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport yesteday morning.
From the Airport, Kipyegon's delegation snaked its way to the country's most powerful office, State House where Kenya's top brass hosted her to a red-carpet ceremony befitting her recent achievements.
President Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other high-profile state officials were waiting to receive the global sensation.
On arrival, Kipyegon's broad smile told it all. She's neither a politician nor a visiting president, but here, beofre her teary eyes, the red carpet was being rolled out to her, her husband 800m Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum and daughter Alyn.
For mother and daughter, they were doing what millions of Kenyans dream of; shaking the President's hand, this time it was hands. At some point, Kipyegon could be seen holding the president's hands as they laughed heartily. Another moment, it was Alyn's time to walk side by side with the president.
After the award, a glamorous Faith Kipyegon said she was hopeful that the reward would motivate other Kenyan athletes to achieve better results in the sport.
"I did not expect this kind of reception, and I feel appreciated. Going to Paris, I never thought I would break the 5000m record, I still don't believe it but it's a great feeling and I want to thank all Kenyans for their support," an emotional Kipyegon said.
Also in the entourage to State House was Africa's fastest 100m man Ferdinand Omanyala who finished second in a photo-finish behind world 200m champion Noah Lyles in Paris last Friday.
The Commonwealth 100m champion was also rewarded for his phenomenal shows in the sprints. He received Sh2 million for consistently writing impressive performances in the 100m
Kipyegon set a new world record and the national record in 1,500m when she won Florence Diamond League on June 2 in Italy before breaking the 5,000m world record a week later with a sensational victory in Paris, France.
Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba held the previous 1,500m World record of 3:50.07 set in Monaco on July 15, 2015, while her compatriot Letesenbet Gidey held the previous 5,000m World Record of 14:06.52 attained in Valencia, Spain on October 7, 2020.
The President said athletes who will continue with their dominance in sports, will rewarded with diplomatic passports and conferred national honours,, among other privileges.
"Our sportsmen and women are heroes who have promoted Kenya's iconic brand globally; we want to acknowledge their invaluable contribution by honoring and rewarding them accordingly," said President Ruto.
"Faith stands as a shining role model for consistency, discipline, hard work and family values. Here is a mother, a wife and a legendary Olympian, multiple World Champion who now holds two brand new world records and is a wife and mother to boot," added the president.
Ruto said Kipyegon's record-breaking achievements had heralded a new reward scheme where the country's athletes breaking World Records will walk away with Sh5 million for the feat.
He hailed Omanyala for his 100m dashes, noting that the African and national champion was an inspiration to Kenyan talents.
Also recognised by President Ruto was Emmanuel Wanyonyi, the 18-year-old Kosirai High student in Nandi, whose meteoric rise to 800m has stunned the world.
Wanyoni won the Rabat and Paris Diamond Leagues, posting back-to-back World Leads. He also won the Kip Keino Classic World Continental Tour last month.
Women's 800m star Mary Moraa was also at the State House ceremony, same as top Athletics Kenya officials. [Additional reporting by Stephen Rutto]