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SPORTS

Kenyans have Faith in Chepngetich to strike gold in Tokyo

WOMEN IN SPORTS By Bismarck Mutahi in Tokyo, Japan | July 31st 2021
Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 1500-meter final during the World Athletics Championships in London Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. (AP )

Kenyans have a chance to catch a glimpse of athletics pin up girl Faith Chepngetich when she starts the chase to retain her 1,500m Olympic gold on Monday morning.

Faith, as she is popularly known in athletics circles among her peers and journalists beat her main rival Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in Rio in 2016 to win Olympic gold.

Even though she lost in Florence in the Diamond League meeting, the 27-year-old world silver medallist has shown to be in top form with a national record run at the Monaco Diamond League meeting just some weeks before the Olympics.

Faith’s mission has however been made difficult by the indecision of her main rival Netherland’s Sifan Hassan.

The double world champion over 1,500m and 10,000m is still undecided on whether to race in 1,500m which makes her other competitors including Faith in the dark on what to do in terms of tactics.

For Faith though, the race on Monday is all about making it to Wednesday’s semi-finals and then from there, they can fight to reach Friday’s final.

Faith will be helped in her mission by Winny Chebet and Ednah Jebitok.

The Kenyans will however face competition from mainly Europeans led by Hassan with Ethiopia’s Guduf Tsegay having decided to concentrate on 5,000m.

Another athlete who has always pushed Faith all the way is Briton Laura Muir and is still expected to be in the mix in trying to make it difficult for Faith and her compatriots.

Faith, who raced at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019 after coming back from giving birth has however been a strong athlete in the championship race and is a favourite for gold no matter the competitors on show.

She has an exceptional championship record, having won or finished second in every major 1500m championship final she has contested since 2014

Apart from the 1,500m heats at 9:35am (3:35am Kenyan time) there are two finals that will be featuring Kenyans.

5,000m world champion Hellen Obiri will be up once again be up against Kenya’s nemesis Hassan.

The Dutch was in confident form during the heats on Friday and the three Kenyans in the line up will have to be at their best to lock her out of the top medal.

Obiri however promised Kenyans that it is a championship event and anybody is likely to win after reaching the final.

“I know Hassan is there alongside the Ethiopian, but we are going to race as a Kenyan team and strive to win a gold medal for Kenya,” Obiri, who finished second behind Vivian Cheruiyot over the distance in Rio said.

Obiri qualified for the final alongside Agnes Tirop and Lillian Kasait.

In the 3,000m steeplechase men final, Kenya’s mission of ensuring the gold medal is retained will be led by Benjamin Kigen and Abraham Kibiwott. The third Kenyan Leonard Bett failed to qualify from the heats on Friday.

Kenyans in action on Tuesday

03:35am- 1,500m women heats- Faith Chepngetich, Winny Chebet, Ednah Jebitok

2:05pm: 400m semi-final-(Depends if 800m runner Emmanuel Korir will run)

3:15pm: 3,000m steeplechase men final- Abraham Kibiwott, Benjamin Kigen

3:40pm; 5,000m women final- Hellen Obiri, Agnes Tirop, Hellen Obiri

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