Her majestic glide is on and perhaps it will take something special to stop Faith Kibiegon, who is destined to become one of Kenya’s finest athletes.
With the 2011 World Youth and 2012 World Junior 1,500m in her custody, the 20-year-old ran a tactical race, clocking 4 minutes 08.94 seconds for her maiden major as a senior at the Hampden Park red track late on Tuesday night.
Kibiegon and her colleagues, World 1,500m bronze medallist and Selah Jeplenting guided the rivals in front running. Even though they exchanged leads occasionally, it’s Jeplenting who led through the 400m mark at 1:10.94 and 800m 2:18.95 with Chepng’etich and Obiri on toe.
Then Obiri would surge ahead at the 200m mark with Chepng’etich in pursuit as Laura Weightman from England and Canadians Kate van Buskirk and Nicole Siguentes menacingly lurked behind.
Kibiegon kick proved supreme to zoom past Obiri on the homestretch bend with Jeplenting falling behind. Kibiegon went clear to triumph but Obiri, who was boxed on the inside, ran out of gas as Weightman claimed silver in 4:09.24 with Van Buskirk going for bronze in 4:0941.
Obiri finished a distant sixth in 4:10.84. It was Kenya’s fourth victory at the games for an overall 10th position in the medal standings with nine medals-four gold, four silver and one bronze.
It was also the third upset on the Kenyan side just after Joyce Chepkirui and Philomena Cheyech won women’s 10,000m and marathon races respectively, beating favourites Florence Kiplagat and Caroline Kilel.
“We had planned a clean sweep but I started to feel all wasn’t well after I overtook Obiri,” Kibiegon said. “I looked over my shoulders and our rivals were charging with Obiri struggling. I had to summon all my strength.”
Kibiegon said her work isn’t done as they proceed for the Africa Championships next week in Morocco.
Kibiegon, the 2011 and 2013 World Cross junior champion, said she is pleased with her transition from the junior to senior rank. Chepng’etich qualified for the 2012 London Olympics while still a junior but fell in the semi-finals.
She would finish fifth at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
This year, she won the Africa Cross Country title before going for gold medal in the 4×1500m Relay at the first IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, along with Mercy Cherono, Irene Jelagat and Hellen Obiri.
The Kenya team improved the World Record time to 16:33.58.
“I just thank God for guiding me to where I have reached and there is more to come from me as I focused on the 2016 Rio Olympics,” said the student from Winners Girls Secondary School.
Wednesday, World champion Eunice Sum opted to remain guided on her expectations at the Hampden Park as she led her mentor Janeth Jepksogei through to women’s 800m semi-finals. It was a gun-to-tape performance by Sum, who clocked 2:02.36, beating Katie Kirk (2:03.00) from Northern Ireland who finished second and Australian Brittany McGowan (2:03.08).
Yearning to sign off in style this being her last “Club” Games, Jepkosgei, who won the 2006 Melbourne title before going for the World crown in 2007 Osaka, only just sneaked through, finishing third in her heat.