Feature Barcelona

Kipyegon expecting to continue progress up the global ladder in Barcelona

Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon of Kenya at the IAAF World Junior Championships Press Conference in Barcelona (Getty Images)Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon of Kenya at the IAAF World Junior Championships Press Conference in Barcelona (Getty Images) © Copyright
Teenager Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon with two World gold medal titles already in her possession remains very confident another is in the pipeline when competing at the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona this week.

Kipyegon already a familiar name on the global athletics circuit after winning last year's World Junior Cross Country race barefooted then following it up with a victory at the Youth Championships four months later, comes to the Barcelona Championships with exceptional credentials.

The 18-year-old not only lowered her personal best to a very impressive time of 4:03.82 at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Shanghai in May, but emphasised her outstanding pedigree when placing third in the Kenyan Olympic Games trials.

That superlative display when speeding to an impressive mark of 4:08:53 in the high altitude rarified air of Nairobi against several older and more experienced opponents, guaranteed her a position in the National squad.

But before competing in London next month, the baby-faced looking girl is determined to raise her game by making the progressive transition from World Youth to Junior champion starting when her 1500 heat takes place on Friday morning.

"I'm happy to be here for the 1500 and they selected me for both the World Juniors and London Championships," she said of Athletics Kenya's confidence in her ability to represent her country with 100 per cent commitment at both venues.

"Her young age will not matter in London. She is a good runner, who on a good day can shock any experienced runner," said her coach Japheth Kipkiru.

Kipyegon a pint sized athlete should on paper dominate the race much easier than when defeating Ethiopia's Senberi Teferi for the younger age group crown in Lille 12 months ago by over a second with her speedy finish.

This season she holds the three of the six fastest times performed by a junior and her nearest rivals, team-mate Nancy Chepkwemoi and Teferi in Barcelona's 1992 Olympic Stadium are much slower this season with marks of 4:09.41 and 4:10.49.

Kipyegon played down a suggestion with her probably having to run sub-four minutes to get an Olympic medal, she might have a crack at the milestone barrier in Saturday's final.

The Nakuru native who will wear shoes on this occasion, insisted: "My personal best is 4:03 but I am sure that here I will run under 4:02."

Meanwhile the youngster with education a very important aspect of her life has packed schoolbooks so she can carry on studying before the two greatest athletics moments of her fledgling career.

Already the journey has encompassed winning a team gold medal at the 2010 World Cross, then the following year showing individual prowess with her World Cross success in Punta Umbra, Spain and on the track Lille in France.

Yet it has all been achieved under the positive advice of coach, Kipkiru and not part of a group. "I train alone at home," said Kipyegon surely destined one day to follow in the footsteps of other great Kenyan athletes.

With Kenya having won the World Junior 1500 gold medal on two past occasions with victories from Viola Kibiwott 10 years ago and Irene Jelagat in 2006, few will doubt that next weekend will see her achieve another major stepping stone en route to becoming a senior competitor and proving herself at the highest level.

David Martin for the IAAF