Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon sets new 1500 meter record

By Rick Jabot

Faith Kipyegon at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics in London. By Erik van Leeuwen,, GFDL, https

The Country of Kenya has always had great track and field athletes.

Add a 29-year-old female to the list.

Faith Kipyegon staked her claim as the greatest women’s 1,500-metre runner of all-time on June 2 in Florence, Italy.

The two-time Olympic champion and two-time world gold medallist smashed the world record in the distance, becoming the first woman to break three minutes 50 seconds with a time of 3:49.11.


Kipyegon got her 2023 campaign off to strong start on 4 February with a dominant victory at the Sirikwa Cross Country Classic (10 km) on home soil in Eldoret.

On 2 June, she eventually got the only thing that was missing on her resume, setting a world 1500 m record of 3:49.11 to become the first woman in history to break the 3:50-barrier in the discipline. The 29-year-old sliced almost a second from Dibaba’s mark (3:50.07) while running a big negative split at the Rome Diamond League staged that year also in Florence. She hit 800 in 2:04.1, as a pacemaker was asked for (WR pace was 2:02.7), and passed the bell in 2:50.2 (Dibaba hit the bell at 2:50.3). Kipyegon was sensational over the final two laps, running her last 800 in 2:00.6, last 400 in 58.81, and last 200 in 29.2. The entire race field congratulated and embraced her after her lap of honour.

Kipyegon made it two world records in a week after breaking exactly seven days later, on 9 June, Letesenbet Gidey‘s 5000 metres world standard of 14:06.62 set in 2020. Faith’s second world record came as a surprise as it was her first race over the distance since 2015 and the third ever. Racing in a thrilling duel with Letesenbet at the Paris Diamond League, she smashed her old PB (14:31.95) and sliced 1.42 s off that world record with a time of 14:05.20. She overtook her with 600 m to go but Letesenbet was closely following, with both lagging about six seconds behind the world record pace. Kipyegon ran a last lap in 60.6 s and dropped Letesenbet in a sprint finish in the last 200 m timed at 28.1 s, even faster than in her 1500 m world record race. She became only the second woman in history to hold both the 1500 m and 5000 m records simultaneously after Paola Pigni in 1969, and the first Kenyan woman to hold the latter.