Kenya's athletics stars expected to shine even brighter this year

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the line to win the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. AP Photo

Athletics fans are looking forward to another year of enthralling actions, with hopes of victories in global races and other competitive contests across the world this year.

Kenyan athletes registered splendid performances in a number of races in 2022, but failed in others, and despite challenges, their resilience remained unmatched. Doping allegations almost ruined the sport.

This year, athletes returning to the roads and track after injuries will be seeking to show the world how they overcame challenges. There are also those who will be replacing their retiring counterparts.

Based on previous performances, we look at selected athletes (men and women) to watch in upcoming athletics shows this year.


Eliud Kipchoge - Marathon

At 38, Eliud Kipchoge’s goal for the 2023 Boston Marathon is simple; a win at the Boston marathon.

Already a champion at four of the six World Marathons Majors, Kipchoge is eager to write the next chapter of his career by winning a fifth WMM title.

Most athletes sign off with one last performance at 38, but not Eliud Kipchoge.

Having won the Tokyo Marathon with a new course record of 2:02:40 on March 6, the greatest marathoner of all time returned to the scene of his 2:01:39 world record in 2018 on 25 September, and slashed his own best time by a staggering 30 seconds.

His performance at the Boston Marathon will most likely define his next move, including his plans to run the Olympic Marathon in Paris, France in 2024.

Ferdinand Omanyala – 100m

2023 is another season for history-maker and sprint sensation Omanyala to prove a point.

At the World Championships last year, the African 100m record holder arrived in Oregon just hours before the heats because of a visa hitch, and although he battled spiritedly, he bowed out of the competition in the semifinals.

But he quickly bounced back at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham after storming to a stunning victory in 10.02sec, dethroning former African champion Akani Simbine. He made history as the first Kenyan to win a 100m Commonwealth title.

He clinched the 100m African crown in Mauritius where he edged out South Africa’s Akani Simbine in a tough race with a photo finish.

Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala participates in a celebrity relay race during the 59th Jamhuri day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium on December 12, 2022. ( Kelly Ayodi, Standard)

Geoffrey Kamworor- Cross Country, track and Marathon

Kamworor has had a decorated career in cross country, 10,000m and road racing. He trains alongside Kipchoge in Kaptagat.

After four-time world cross-country victories (two in senior and equal number of wins in the junior category), four world half marathon titles to his name and two wins at the New York City Marathon, Kamworor’s career was hit by an injury in 2020.

After recovering from a fractured tibia following a motorcycle accident in June 2020, Kamworor later suffered a stress fracture, but made it to the Kenyan team to the World Cross Country championships set for February 18, 2023 in Bathurst, Australia. He finished sixth at the National Cross Country trials in Ruiru.

Emmanuel Korir – 800m

In the past two years, Korir, who went to Kimuron Secondary School in Elgeyo Marakwet before flying to US for academic pursuits, has proved to be 800m world record holder David Rudisha’s perfect replacement.

The 27-year-old masterful track star is a defending Olympic and World champion.

At last year’s World Championships in Oregon, Korir ran a textbook tactical race to win the 800m title. The world will be watching his moves as eyes a defense of his world title in Budapest.

Evans Chebet – Marathon

Chebet, 33, has two World Marathon Major titles in Boston and New York under his belt. He won the two major marathons in 2022.

But he is yet to fly the Kenyan flag in a global 42km contest. Will 2023 be his year to represent the country?

The Kapsabet-based athlete registered his first win at the 2019 edition of Buenos Aires Marathon before writing another decisive victory at the 2021 Valencia Marathon.

Kelvin Kiptum – Marathon

He arrived with a bang when he made a sensational marathon debut, taking victory in 2:01:53 – the fastest 42km debut and the third fastest time in the World.

The world will curiously be watching to see whether Kiptum, 23, was a one-hit wonder, or a consistent athlete rising gradually to stardom.

Kiptum’s personal best in the marathon is just 44 seconds outside Kipchoge’s world record.


Faith Chepng’etich
Kipyegon – 1500m

Gold Medalist Faith Kipyegon, of Kenya, reacts to winning the women's 1500-meter run final at the World Athletics Championships on Monday, July 18, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. AP 

The double Olympic champion is seeking to extend her dominance in the 1500m in 2023.

Chepng’etich missed out on setting a new World Record by just 0.3 seconds at the Diamond League meeting at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco on August 10, 2022.

She remains one of the most decorated female athletes in 1500m being the first woman to win four global medals in her specialty.

Chepng’etich clinched her major global title at the World Championships in Oregon after outsprinting archrival Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia to win in 3:52.96 and cement her place as arguably the greatest-ever female miler.

She will be seeking her third world title at the Budapest World Championships in Hungary this year, if she makes the Kenyan team.

Mercy Cherono - Road and 5,000m

After four seasons of injury hindrances, the 2014 Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Mercy Cherono is now in better shape and ready for her long-awaited return to competition.

In December 2022, she chalked up victory at the Corrida Pedestre Internationale de Houilles 10km Road Race held in Houilles, France, in what observers described as Cherono’s grand return from injury and transition to the roads.

Cherono led from the start to end to claim the top honours at the 49th edition of the French race.

The 31 year-old who missed the course record of 30:32 set by her compatriot Norah Jeruto in 2019 by 24 seconds, faced no stiff challenge as she ran solo for the entire race to cut the tape in a new personal best of 30:55

Hellen Obiri-Marathon

Obiri overcame strong winds to win the 2022 edition of the Istanbul Half Marathon during her transition to road racing.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Senior Sergeant secured her sixth title at the force’s cross country championships last weekend.

With her time of 1:04:48, Obiri – a two-time world 5000m champion ran the 10th-fastest women’s half-marathon ever in the Istanbul Half marathon last March. With that win, she announced her move to road running, and she did it in style.

Later in September, she held off Peres Jepchirchir and Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia to retain her title at the Great North Run, to successfully defend her title.

Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri reacts after winning the final of the women's 5000m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

She later finished sixth at her debut 42km race at the New York City Marathon in November. This year, Obiri, the world is watching her moves in road running.

Peres Jepchirchir - Marathon

After basking in glory at the 2022 Boston Marathon, the Olympic champion is looking to another successful 2023.

Jepchirchir, 29, missed the 2022 World Athletics Championships due to her hip injury and another opportunity for a world title attempt will present itself in August.

April 18, 2022 Kenya's Evans Chebet and Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir celebrate with trophy after winning the elite men's and women's race REUTERS

Whichever race her manager decides, Jepchirchir will be among women marathoners whose participation will be keenly followed this year because of her stunning performances, previously.

Jepchirchir won the 2020 Olympic gold medal in a time of 2:27.20. She won the 2021 New York City Marathon with a time of 2:22:39, becoming the first athlete to win the Olympic gold medal and the New York City Marathon in the same year. She won the 2022 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:21:02.

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