top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarrie McDonald

Faith Kipyegon Enshrines GOAT Status with Consecutive World Records

In the early stages of this 2023 outdoor track and field season, Faith Kipyegon has already cemented herself as one of the sport’s greatest of all time. After stunning the world with a phenomenal world record in the 1500 meters, many wondered how much further the double Olympic medalist could go.

They did not, however, have to wonder for very long.

Kipyegon, 29, returned to the track a mere eight days after her 1500m world record, where she obliterated the women’s 5000m world record in her first race over the distance in an astonishing eight years. In doing so, she became the first woman in 54 years to hold the 1500m and 5000m world records simultaneously.

Kipyegon crosses the 1500m finish line with an expression of disbelief after breaking the world record at the June 2 Florence Diamond League. | @Kipyegon_Faith/Twitter

Kipyegon has long dominated the 1500m race, winning the Olympic gold in Rio at the age of 22 and going on to become just the third woman in history to win an Olympic and World Championship title in the 1500m with her victory at the London 2017 World Championships. While Kipyegon took a 12-month break from running to give birth to her daughter, Alyn, in June 2018, she returned to the track even faster, defending her Olympic gold in Tokyo and winning the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Still, though, the 1500m world record had long eluded her. Kipyegon seemed poised to break the record last season, but her closest attempt at a 2022 Diamond League meet in Monaco fell an agonizing three-tenths of a second short with a time of 3:50.37 — the second fastest in history.

The Kenyan’s breakthrough finally came at a June 2 Diamond League in Florence. Clocking a sensational time of 3:49.11, Kipyegon obliterated Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia’s long-untouched record of 3:50.07, set in 2015, by nearly a second.

In a stacked field that included Britain’s Laura Muir, Australia’s Jessica Hull, and the U.S.’ Josette Andrews and Cory McGee, Kipyegon ran on the heels of American pacers Brooke Feldmeier and Sage Hurta-Klecker from the sound of the gun. A tale of negative splits, Kipyegon ran a calm first half of the race, hitting 800m in 2:04.01, just behind the world record pace of 2:02.7. She clocked her last 800m split in 2:00.6 and produced a 58.9 final 400m split.

Kipyegon finished almost eight seconds ahead of Muir, who took second place in 3:57.09. Just behind the Brit, Jessica Hull set a new Australian record of 3:57.29 to take third place.

To put her remarkable feat in perspective, Kipyegon’s time of 3:49.11 would have won her the 1500m Olympic title in Rio — on the men’s side. Her performance also marks the first time a woman has run under the 3:50 mark.

Kipyegon’s time was so fast that she even surprised herself.

“I was looking to run the world lead, which was 3:54,” Kipyegon said at the Wanda Diamond League press conference after the race. “I didn’t expect the world record — this just came as a surprise.”

From the moment Kipyegon crossed the finish line, her joy was infectious — you couldn’t help but root for her. She joyously fell to the ground with a beaming smile, encircled by her competitors who, in a truly uplifting spirit of camaraderie, sportsmanship, and friendship, looked just as ecstatic as Kipyegon herself.

Kipyegon celebrates her 1500m world record with her competitors. | @FaithKipyegon/Instagram.

Kipyegon’s success only continued at the June 9 Paris Diamond League, where she stormed to a 14:05.20 5000m, setting the world record and breaking her eight-year hiatus in the event in stunning fashion.

Along her way to victory, Kipyegon edged out the now former world record-holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, who ran the previous world record of 14:06.62 on Oct. 7, 2020, in Valencia.

“I don’t know how to express it,” Kipyegon said after the race. “It’s like I am dreaming. I am so happy and emotional right now. I just wanted to improve on my PB, the world record was not my plan. I just ran after Gidey.”

Kipyeon ran much of the race stride for stride with Gidey but began to pull ahead in the home straight. As she crossed the finish line 1.42 seconds ahead of Gidey’s record, she threw her hands to her head in disbelief. An expression of shock lit up her face as she joyously collapsed on the track surrounded by her competitors celebrating alongside her for the second time in a week.

Kipyegon reacts to her 5000m world record at the June 9 Paris Diamond League. | | @Kipyegon_Faith/Twitter

Moving forward, Kipyegon said she will focus on defending her 1500m title at the 2023 World Athletics Championship in Budapest, held Aug. 19-27. The following year, if Kipyegon were to win the 1500m at Paris 2024, she would join only Usain Bolt as the second athlete — and first woman — to win the same track event in three consecutive Olympic games.

Kipyegon indicated that she will eventually consider moving up distances to the 5000m or even the marathon. No matter what she decides, her recent performances indicate she is poised to make strides in the running world for seasons to come.


bottom of page