Feature21 Nov 2023

Focus on finalists: Faith Kipyegon


Faith Kipyegon

As the World Athletics Awards 2023 draws near, we’re shining a spotlight on the 10 finalists – five men and five women – for the World Athlete of the Year awards.

Today the focus is on Kenyan middle-distance runner Faith Kipyegon.


Faith Kipyegon started 2023 as one of the most decorated middle-distance runners in history.

She ended the year with even more global gold – and a clutch of world records to her name.

The first race of her season gave a glimpse as to what was to come. Competing at the Sirikwa Cross Country in Eldoret, Kipyegon won the women’s 10km event by more than a minute, beating some of Kenya’s leading distance runners. It was clear that she’d been working on her strength in the off season.

She opened her track campaign three months later with a comfortable 3:58.57 victory over 1500m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Doha. That was merely a warm-up of what was to come one month later.

She lined up for the 1500m at the Diamond League meeting in Florence with the intention of breaking the world 1500m record of 3:50.07, having got within 0.30 of the mark last year. This time she stayed level with – and then ahead of – the wavelights that circled the inside of the track. Tearing away from the rest of the field, Kipyegon won in 3:49.11 to take almost a full second off the world record, winning the race by the staggering margin of eight seconds.

Having finally achieved one of her big career goals at 1500m, Kipyegon set her sights on a new challenge: the 5000m.

Despite having completed just two races at that distance before, both of them back in 2015, Kipyegon took on some of the world’s best at the Diamond League meeting in Paris. She wasn’t on world record pace until the final couple of laps.

With a final kilometre of 2:43.2, Kipyegon charged through the finish line in 14:05.20, taking 1.42 seconds off the previous world record and finishing two seconds ahead of Letesenbet Gidey, the now former world record-holder.

“I didn’t think about the world record, I don’t know how I made it,” said a delighted and surprised Kipyegon. “I just focused on the green light and tried to stay relaxed and enjoy the race. When I saw that it was a world record, I was so surprised.”

After winning the 5000m at Kenya’s World Trials, clocking 14:53.90 at altitude in Nairobi, Kipyegon returned to the Diamond League circuit for an attack on another world record, this time taking on the mile in Monaco.

In a stunning run, where she passed through the 1500m point in 3:51.41, Kipyegon crushed the world record by five seconds, clocking 4:07.64. Numerous national and area records were broken by the rest of the field, but even they were way behind the outstanding Kenyan.

Kipyegon then took a break from competition for a month as she geared up for the World Championships in Budapest, where she was taking on the 1500m and 5000m double.

The shorter event – a distance at which she already owned four global titles – was up first. After navigating her way through the rounds with ease, she dominated the final and won in 3:54.87.

She had no time to rest, though, as her 5000m heat took place the very next day. She qualified comfortably, then returned to the track for the final three days later. Up against Olympic champion Sifan Hassan and world 10,000m champion Gudaf Tsegay, Kipyegon once again rose to the top and took the title in 14:53.88.

“This has been an amazing year for me,” she said. “Making history, winning two gold medals in a championship, is what I was dreaming for this season. I have been patient, waiting to be able to break world records and win double golds. But my dream just came true, it is amazing.”

After being undefeated in all finals during the track season, Kipyegon turned her focus to the roads towards the end of the year and added another global medal to her collection, taking bronze in the mile at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23.


The World Athletes of the Year will be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms on 11 December as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023 – and you and a friend can be part of the celebrations.

One lucky person and a companion will win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip to Monaco during the annual World Athletics Awards.

The winners of the fan VIP trip will get to spend three nights (9-11 December) in Monaco and meet the best athletes of 2023 in person. Flights, accommodation and evening meals will all be included.

Enter now