NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – Double world champion Faith Kipyegon fought back tears, as she was carried shoulders high immediately she hit the frames of the exit doors at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) late Monday night.
Not even a delay of arrival time by nearly two hours could dampen the spirits of friends, family and athletics fanatics who had gathered to welcome the athletes back home and even the tourists and visitors who were arriving, were caught in the moment and took it all in.
Kipyegon held her hands in her face in disbelief, and for a girl that has won so many times before, this proved a bit of a huge surprise for her.
“Amazing!” Kipyegon exclaimed, speaking to Capital Sports just after the crowd withered down on her wings.
“I was honestly not expecting this and I am surprised. This is a huge motivation for me and Team Kenya as a whole to receive such kind of a warm welcome back home. I feel really motivated and emotional to be celebrated in this way. It is nice for every sportsman in our country,” she further added.
Kipyegon, 29, made history in Budapest, becoming the first woman in World Championships history to win both the 1500m and 5,000m gold medals at a single event.
She put on a marker in what has been a successful year for her, having broken three world records already.
“It has been a hugely successful year for me and I am delighted. I started well and I knew something good would come,” Kipyegon further stated.
She was one of only two medalists from Budapest to touch down in the country on Monday night, with a majority of the rest having travelled to various destinations in Europe to fulfil their Diamond League obligations.
The other medalist to jet back home is Mary Moraa, who clinched the 800m gold. Just as Faith, she was over the moon with the kind of reception they received.
“I am really happy. I always dreamt of something like this,” she told Capital Sports.
She added; “I always saw Faith being welcomed in this way and I told myself that one day also, it will be me. When I went to Budapest, I just wanted to win a medal and when I got gold, I told myself that I will also be welcomed back home like Faith. But this was more than I expected.”
Sports Principal Secretary Eng. Peter Tum had accompanied the team to Budapest and also jetted back. The team was received at the JKIA by Youth Affairs PS Maalim Ismail and their Heritage counterpart Ummi Bashir.
Among those who jetted back home include outgoing 800m World Champion Emmanuel Korir, Ferguson Rotich, Nicholas Kimeli, Boniface Mweresa among others.