Sponsored by Ethiopian Airlines, London 2017.
With six women having run faster than four minutes in 2017, the women’s 1500m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 had been billed as one of the events of the championships. And so it proved.
Ultimately it was Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon who reigned supreme, upgrading her world silver from 2015 to gold in 4:02.59, 0.17 clear of US champion Jenny Simpson (4:02.76) and South Africa’s Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya (4:02.90). Third coming down the home straight, Great Britain’s Laura Muir ultimately missed out on a medal by 0.07, clocking 4:02.97 for fourth.
“I thank God today, it was a good race in London,” Kipyegon said.
“It is such a high quality field. The best was going to win here.”
With 200 metres to go, Kipyegon and the Netherlands’ world indoor champion Sifan Hassan – the fastest in the world this year with 3:56.14 – were battling it out at the head of a field, as Muir chased hard behind in third. However, Olympic bronze medallist Simpson got it tactically right once again, passing Muir on the inside to win her third world 1500m medal after her gold in 2011 and silver in 2013. Meanwhile, Semenya showed some of her 1:55.27 two-lap speed to also pass Muir – and a dying Hassan – just metres before the line, as 2015 world bronze medallist Hassan held on for fifth in 4:03.34.
Renowned global championships performer Simpson revealed, “My coach has been telling me all day, ‘Be willing to run your guts out and you’ll be great’, so I did exactly what she did. Having the experience is huge because having the ability to stay calm is so hard, especially at the IAAF World Championships when you are racing in a beautiful stadium like this. To come out with a medal, I think it was down to keeping my wits about me.”
For Kipyegon, it was a far cry from her last experience in the London Olympic stadium. At the Olympic Games in 2012 – fresh from her world U20 title – the then 18-year-old failed to qualify from the 1500m heats. Fast forward five years and after a 43.66 second final 300m, Kipyegon is now the world champion, to go alongside her victories in last year’s Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Further back, Great Britain’s Laura Weightman was finishing strongly and enjoyed her best run on the global stage for sixth in 4:04.11, just pipping Poland’s European champion Angelika Cichocka (4:04.16). Morocco’s Rababe Arafi and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta also both ran faster than 4:05, clocking 4:04.35 and 4:04.76 for eighth and ninth respectively.
Roared on by the home crowd, British record-holder Muir went straight to the front from the gun, leading the field through 400 in 65.35 and a slow 2:17.13 at 800 metres. Hassan shot through to take the lead at 900 metres, but Kipyegon and Simpson promptly covered the move. Defending champion and world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba came wide approaching the bell, attempting to challenge, but never really made her presence known, as Hassan and Kipyegon pushed on at the bell, chased by Muir and Simpson.
Dibaba looked a shadow of the athlete that clocked 3:50.07 in 2015, ultimately fading to 12th and last in 4:06.72.
Emily Moss for the IAAF