2023: The year Kenyan athletes shattered World Records

Faith Kipyegon wins the 5000M women final race during the Trials for World Athletics Championship held at Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi on July 07, 2023.[Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Nothing would have made Kenyan athletics more memorable in 2023 than World Records broken in spectacular fashions.

It was a thrilling year, with memorable moments in athletics showdowns.

As an athletics fan, you should be yearning for other scintillating episodes as the country’s top guns look to re-write 2023 scripts in 2024.

Observers say 2023 was the year that Kenyan stars oozed class in a number of mouthwatering contests, but the record-breaking moments stood out.

From Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon’s 1500m, One Mile and 5,000m World Records to Kelvin Kiptum's rise to the fastest marathoner position and to Agnes Ngetich’s women only record time, Kenyans secured their special places in history, once again.

Some records held by the country’s athletes were however obliterated during the period.

For instance, Daniel Komen’s 25 year-old 3000m indoor world record of 7:24.90 fell in February after Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia, at the World Indoor Tour Meeting in Liévin, France, lowered it by a minute.

At the 2023 Berlin Marathon, Tigist Assefa, also of Ethiopia, shattered the women’s marathon record previously held by Olympic silver medallist Brigid Kosgei.

Faith Kipyegon’s 5,000m World Record was also lowered three months after it was set.

Faith Kipyegon

The women’s 1,500m World Record was tottering for a while, and it fell thanks to Kipyegon.

Kipyegon left tongues wagging at the third Diamond League meeting of the season on June 2.

It came as no surprise since the track star had been getting closer to the 1500m world record in recent years, and she achieved it in a brilliant race and at the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala in Florence, Italy.

Kipyegon said she did not believe she had broken the 1,500m World Record, but noted that she had trained hard for it.

The two-time Olympic champion stopped the timer at 3:49.11, beating Genzebe Dibaba's former record, set at the Monaco Diamond League in 2015.

A week later, Kipyegon pulled another major surprise– shattering the 5,000m World Record in a magnificent style. It is now a former record.

Few expected Kipyegon to break the 5000m in Paris a week later. Before the race, Kipyegon admitted that she was feeling tired after breaking the 1,500m record a week before, but she was shocked like everyone else after crossing the finish line in 14:05.20 at the Stade Charlety in Paris.

As if breaking the 1,500m and the 5,000m records was not enough, Kipyegon went for the One Mile record at the Monaco Diamond League.

By the time Kipyegon rolled into Monaco in July, it seemed inevitable that the Mile World Record was at risk.

And she delivered it with a show-stopping 4:07.64, shading more than four seconds off Sifan Hassan's previous record on the same track four years ago. Having become the first athlete ever to break two world records in a single season, Kipyegon made them three, (now two).

Kipyegon is likely to double 1,500m and 5,000m at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games as she did at the 2023 Budapest World Championships where she won gold.

“My focus in 2024 is to defend my 1,500m title,” Kipyegon says.

Just three months after Kipyegon's 5000m heroics in Paris, Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia set a new world record over the distance with a exhilarating 14:00.21, becoming the first woman ever to seriously threaten the 14-minute barrier.

Kelvin Kiptum poses with his trophy at the World Athletics gala in Monte Carlo on November 11, 2023. [ World Athletics]

Kelvin Kiptum

Kiptum made history as he produced the finest male marathon performance of all time at the 2023 Chicago Marathon – a World Marathon Major.

The London Marathon champion had played down his chances of breaking the world record in Chicago, but still went ahead to smash the previous record set by Eliud Kipchoge in 2022, by a jaw dropping 34 seconds as he crossed the finish line in 2:00:35.

The 24-year-old athlete blazed negative splits for the second half-at the Chicago marathon when he tore away to a historic world record moment.

In 2024, the world will be looking forward to another thriller at the Rotterdam Marathon as Kiptum lines up.

In 2019, he ran the Rotterdam marathon as a pace setter but in April, his sights will be on writing history ahead of the Paris Olympics in August.

“I will try to beat my World Record in Rotterdam… I know I am capable of doing that, if my preparation works according to plan and the conditions are okay. In that case I will be looking to get close to the two-hour barrier. That might look ambitious, but I am not afraid of setting such goals,” Kiptum said at a press conference for the Rotterdam Marathon in November 2023.

Chicago was his third career marathon and second Major victory after winning the London Marathon title in April, in a course record of 2:01:25.

Kiptum, who is represented by Marc Corstjens of Golazo, is also expected to attack the Rotterdam course record of 2:03:36 set by Bashir Abdi in 2021. Abdi also won the 2023 marathon in 2:03:47.

Kenya's Agnes Ngetich broke the 10km women only record at the Trunsylvania 10km, clocking 29:24 in Romania on September 10, 2023. [Agencies]

Agnes Ngetich

Agnes Ngetich delivered a mouthwatering show in the Trunsylvania 10km at the Brasov Running Festival when she sped to a women-only 10km world record of 29:24.

En route to the 10km record, Ngetich passed through 5km in 14:25 which is a women-only world record.

With the 5km performance, the World Cross Country bronze medallist is a record holder in the road distance.

She is likely to eye a place in team Kenya to the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia after bagging a bronze in Bathurst 23.

The Brasov Running Festival is remembered as a blistering race that started at a hectic pace right from the gun with Ngetich, compatriot Catherine Relin and Joy Cheptoyek of Uganda left behind the pacemaker – who had been asked to push the contestants through 5km in 15:00.

The trio cruised through the 1500m mark in a stunningly fast 4:12, leaving enthusiasts questioning the tactical decision of such a fast start. Cheptoyek – the Ugandan, started fading away at around 2.5km of that race.

Ngetich and Relin went through 3km in 8:32 but it was only a few hundred metres down the road on the outskirts of the Transylvanian city that the latter started to drift back and from then on Ngetich was out on her own as she came home.

The 2023 World Cross Country Championships bronze medallist – who finished second in Brasov 12 months before and was sixth in the women’s 10,000m at the Budapest World Championships in a personal best of 31:34.83 – went through 5km in a women-only world record of 14:25, which is four seconds faster than the previous mark set by Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi in 2021.

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