•Kipyegon broke the tape in 3:50.37, missing Dibaba’s world record by three-tenths of a second in the women’s 1500m at the Monaco Diamond League in August last year.
•Kipyegon noted that she has devised an exceedingly involving training routine to achieve this lofty goal.
After pulling off a masterstroke performance at the Doha Diamond League on May 5, Kenyan track star Faith Kipyegon forecasts an incredible year.
The two-time 1,500m world champion says her ultimate goal is to add a third global crown to her trophy cabinet at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Kipyegon has vowed to break Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba’s world record of 3:50.07 set at the Monaco Diamond League in 2015.
“My big goal is to defend my title. As for breaking the world record, we will see what’s feasible this year. I’ll try my best to achieve that as well,” Kipyegon said in an exclusive interview.
Kipyegon broke the tape in 3:50.37, missing Dibaba’s world record by three-tenths of a second in the women’s 1500m at the Monaco Diamond League in August last year.
The achievement came on the heels of another inspiring performance at the World Championships in Oregon, where she recorded 3:52.96 to retain her world 1500m crown, adding to a second Olympic gold medal won a year earlier in Tokyo, Japan.
She will be heading to Budapest inspired by her performance in the opening leg of the 2023 Diamond League Series in Doha, Qatar on May 5, where she cracked a world lead of 3:58.57.
She breezed to victory after fending off an abrasive challenge from the Ethiopian duo of Diribe Welteji (3:59.34) and Freweyni Hailu (4:00.29), who finished second and third respectively.
Kipyegon described the race as an exciting but challenging one by way of the windy conditions— which she was only too happy to come up against.
“I am very pleased with the start of my season. It was an exciting race but a little windy so I decided not to push too much and focus on winning the race. I have been training well,” she said.
“Winning in Qatar proved to me that this will be a very fruitful season,” she said.
This was her second trophy this year having also bagged the senior women’s race at the Sirikwa World Cross Country Tour in February, where she clocked 33:55.
Kipyegon noted that she has devised an exceedingly involving training routine to achieve this lofty goal.
“I believe if you put in the right amount of effort, you can achieve anything. I already have a training program in place to get the results I want,” Kipyegon explained.
The mother of one arrived in the country from Doha a fortnight ago and immediately plunged herself into a vigorous training regimen in Nairobi’s Ngong neighborhood to prepare her legs for the Diamond League.
She made it clear that she wants the Diamond League and other upcoming competitions to be a part of her preparation plans as she eyes a hallmark performance in Budapest, Hungary.
The eighth child of nine siblings, Kipyegon was born on January 10, 1994, to Linah and Samuel Koech in Bomet County, where she spent her formative years.
The only other member of her family who is passionate about athletics is her older sister Beatrice Mutai who has excelled at 10 km races and half-marathons.
Kipyegon attended Winners Girls High School in Keringet, Kuresoi South, Nakuru County.
Her great potential in athletics began coming to the fore at the age of 14 years when her Physical Education (PE) teacher asked the class to run a 1km race which she completed in 20 minutes.
“I debuted my professional athletics career in 2010 when I participated in the World Cross Country Championships women’s junior race,” Kipyegon said.
“The following year, I took part in the World Cross Country Championships held in Punta Umbria and managed to win the gold medal individually, and for the team.”
A few months later, she took part in the 1500 m race at the World Youth Championships and bagged another gold medal.
Kipyegon lavished a lot of praise on her coach Patrick Sang, saying he had done a lot to catapult her to the global limelight. “I have been performing well since I joined coach Sang. My performance has been extremely good.”
Married to 2012 London Olympics 800m bronze medallist, Timothy Kitum, Kipyegon is the proud mother of one daughter, Alyn Chepkor Kiprono, who was born in June 2018.
Kipyegon, who is also the Olympic 1,500m champion, attributes her recent spate of success to a determination to offer the world to her only child. “Since I gave birth to my daughter Alyn, she has been the motivator in my life.”
The Kenyan middle-distance star has grappled with numerous challenges to attain her current status. “I always believe in capitalizing on the disappointments in life to fuel me to the new heights I desire to reach.”
Her meteoric rise to the global limelight took off when she was in her teenage years, running her races barefoot.
As a 16-year-old, she proved her mettle at the 2010 World Cross Country Championships, when she wrapped up fourth in the junior race.
“Despite getting an opportunity to represent my country, failing to secure a podium finish daunted me. I was eager to return home with a medal,” Kipyegon said.
A year later, she realised her lofty dream after clinching two junior global cross-country. This came weeks before she was promoted to a new 1500m championship record at the World Youth Championships in Lille, France.
Unknown to her, she had set the stage for a resounding transition to the senior stage. “My senior career began when I earned a maiden slot in the cut-throat Kenyan team that flew the country’s flag at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Her excitement about booking a flight to Heathrow quickly turned into a nightmare when she crashed out in her first race. She did not allow her torrid experience in London to dampen her spirit and define her future.
Kipyegon bounced back emphatically in her debut at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, where rose to the occasion with a fifth-place finish in the finals.
She thereafter cracked a podium finish at the Beijing 2015 Games and has never looked back since then. She attributes her success on the track to hard work, persistence, and discipline.
She explained what has made her such a competitive 1500m runner over the past ten years, saying, “Discipline makes me the best runner because since I was young, I’ve been putting it in my head the kind of person I want to be in the future.”
“It takes hard work, discipline and determination to achieve one’s dream. I have made numerous sacrifices.”
Kipyegon said the most memorable moment in her glittering career is laying claim to two Olympic gold medals.
“My defining moment was becoming the second woman in Olympic history to win two consecutive Olympic 1500m titles at Tokyo 2020.”
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were especially significant for her given she had just emerged from a maternity leave
“This was my first Olympics as a mum. I ran well and won the silver at the 2019 World Championships in Doha after returning from a 21-month maternity break.”
Kipyegon said her debacle in Doha triggered a serious bout of low self-esteem and she constantly struggled to fend off the doubts that muddled her thoughts and cast a shadow on her ability to storm the title in Tokyo.
“I, however, chose to be strong, reasoning that this was the perfect opportunity to prove to the world that becoming a mother does not automatically make you weak.”
She pulled her act together and recorded a vintage performance in Tokyo that lifted her spirits and fired her to another landmark victory at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon in July last year.
The 1,500m outdoor world record has so far escaped the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion, who has established herself as the undisputed monarch of the event.
The 1000 metres world record eluded her in 2020 and 2021. At the 2022 Diamond League in Monaco, she gave her best attempt yet to break the 1500m world record, setting a world record and setting a personal best, but she fell 11 hundredths short of Genzebe Dibaba’s pace in the final 300 meters.
“That spurs me on to put in more effort. I’m going to break the 1000 and 1500m records in the future. I won’t give up and I’ll keep pushing for it. The 1500m world record is beatable.”
“I want to see my career at the next level—at Eliud Kipchoge’s level in marathons. Training with him is something special. I am happy to train and stay in camp with him from Monday to Saturday. He motivates us to follow in his footsteps.”
As she pursues an unprecedented third world championship in Budapest in 2023 and a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in 2024, Kipyegon continues to work toward her great dream of being the most decorated 1500m female star. She is also committed to leaving both an on- and off-track legacy.
“I want to make a lasting impression. I aspire to greatness. I still desire to accomplish big things. To encourage moms and aspiring female athletes, the mother of one has adopted the brand “Mother Stronger”.
“This is a noble cause to acknowledge and appreciate motherhood. It holds a special meaning for me. My manager and I decided to use the slogan “Mother Stronger” to inspire moms everywhere when I speak.
“It’s not easy if you have to leave your child at home and attend training camp for a week. We should constantly keep in mind that a mother is stronger.”
Kipyegon has expressed interest in venturing into the marathon in the future. She stated that the unprecedented success of Kenya’s marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge has inspired and nourished her dream.
Kipyegon said Kipchoge has perplexed the world with an incredible string of masterstroke performances that she wishes to emulate.
Both Kipchoge and Kipyegon stole the show at the 2023 Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) gala, where they received top honours for their achievements.
Whereas Kipchoge laid claim to the men’s Sports Personality of the Year accolade, Kipyegon ran away with the women’s honours.
“As my career progresses, I will continue to look up to Eliud because he is the greatest marathoner of all time. That is something I hope to do in the future,” Kipyegon said.
“I aspire to grow as a person and an athlete like him, as well as to be the greatest marathoner of all time,” she added.
FAITH KIPYEGON'S BIO
Name: Faith KipyegonDate of Birth: January 10, 1994Specialty: 1500 metres
EDUCATIONWinners Girls High School in Keringet, Kuresoi South, Nakuru County
2012: World Junior Championships in Barcelona (1500 m gold medal)
2012: Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom(1500 m gold medal)
2013: World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland (gold medal junior race)
2013: World Championships in Moscow, Russia (1500 m 5th position)
2014: World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas (4×1500 m gold medal)
2014: Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, United Kingdom (1500 m gold medal)
2015: World Championships in Beijing, China (1500 m silver medal)
2016: Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1500 m gold medal)
2017: World Cross Country Championship in Kampala, Uganda (Senior race 6th position)
2017: World Championships in London, United Kingdom (1500 m gold medal)
2019: World Championships in Doha, Qatar (1500 m silver medal)
2021: Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan (1500 m gold medal)