Faith Kipyegon added to her Olympic title from Rio de Janeiro last summer by taking gold in the women’s 1500-meters final, proving too strong over the final lap in what was an incredible contest at the World Athletics Championships
In what was billed by many as the final of the Championships, with so many potential contenders, it was Kipyegon who held her nerve, battling with Sifan Hassan throughout the final 400-meters before pulling away to win the title in a title of 4:02.59. America’s Jenny Simpson showed her championships mentality by finishing strongly to take the silver medal in a time of 4:02.76, with 800-meter specialist Caster Semenya edging past home favorite Laura Muir to finish third in a time of 4:02.90.
Hassan, the fastest woman in the world this year this year and arguably the favorite for the title heading, faded badly in the back straight and finished down in fifth place. World record holder Genzebe Dibaba, the champion two years ago, finished in last place after a below-par meet in which she has believed to have picked up a slight injury in the semifinal.
Kipyegon remains firm as race lives up to high expectations
With such an incredible field, the race was seen by many as potentially the highlight of the Championships and lived up to expectations as an exciting race was capped by a brilliant finish.
It was Muir, the home favorite, who took the race out in front, with the likes of Kipyegon and Simpson sitting not far behind at the front, with Semenya towards the middle of the pack and Hassan and Dibaba sitting at the back as expected. The opening lap went at a fairly quick pace, though it slowed dramatically in the second lap, meaning that all 12 women were fairly close together heading into the final 800m.
Throughout this stage, Kipyegon moved up onto the shoulder of Muir and started to increase the pace once again. It was at this stage that Hassan moved up from the back to join the Kenyan and the Brit at the front, and Kipyegon and the Dutchwoman began to pull ahead heading into the final lap. Over the final lap, those two remained a pace ahead of Muir, with Simpson not far behind, and it was becoming clear that Dibaba would not be a factor.
Heading into the final 200m the three had not pulled away too much from the field, though Kipyegon seemingly found an extra gear and pulled away. With Hassan trailing off, Simpson and Semenya, always a strong finisher in the 800m, burst down the opening straight, with the two edging past Muir in the very final stages to take second and third place respectively.
Kipyegon’s win certainly puts her as the dominant force in the event, with the Kenyan now holding both the World and Olympic title, whilst former champion Simpson proved herself once again at the big stage by adding to her Olympic bronze from last summer and her two previous world medals. Meanwhile, it is Semenya’s first ever 1500m medal, after only focusing on the 800m final in the past; she will be the heavy favorite for that event.