World record holders Kiptum and Kipyegon crowned athletes of the year as Kenyans dominate annual awards in Monaco

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 11 – The world record holder for the men’s marathon, Kelvin Kiptum and double world record holder Faith Kipyegon have been named as the athletes of the year in the male and female categories at the annual World Athletics gala in Monaco on Monday evening.

Kiptum was enthroned as the best male athlete in out of stadia events following his meteoric rise in the space of one year in which he timed a new world record of 2:00:35 on his way to victory at the Chicago Marathon in October.

The 23-year-old made his marathon debut at the Valencia Marathon in December last year where he announced himself in stunning fashion, clocking the fourth fastest time ever of 2:01:53 to take first place.

He clocked a course record of 2:01:25 at the London Marathon, five months later, and it was only a matter of when and not if he would smash his compatriot, Eliud Kipchoge’s then world record of 2:01:09.

Fruits of Faith

When it comes to the track events, no one has had a memorable year than Kipyegon who has undoubtedly reaped the fruits of keeping the faith throughout the years of struggle.

The two-time Olympic champion was peerless in the women’s 1500m, clocking a world record of 3:49.11 at the Florence Diamond League in June 2.

Faith Kipyegon competing at the women’s 1500m final during the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Photo/GETTY IMAGES

A week later, the two-time World 1500m champion was the talk of the world after she timed 14:05.20 at the Paris Diamond League to break the world record for the women’s 5000m on her first attempt in the 12-and-a-half lap race.

A month later, in July, she had made the headlines once again when she clocked another world record of 4:07.64 in Monaco to stamp her authority as the queen of the track.

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Although her world record for the 5000m was later smashed by Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay (14:00.21) at the Prefontaine Diamond League in September, Kipyegon had indeed shown her ability to push the boundaries of her abilities on the track.

The icing on the cake for her was when she won the 1500m and 5000m world titles at the World Championships in Budapest. Hungary.

Kenya’s rising stars

World 800m silver medalist Emmanuel Wanyonyi and world 3000m steeplechase bronze medalist Faith Cherotich were crowned the male and female rising stars respectively.

Both athletes have been testament to Kenya’s reputation as a goldmine of athletics talent, beginning from their debut on the international stage at the World Under 20 Championships in 2021 in Nairobi.

Emmanuel Wanyonyi after winning silver at the 2023 Budapest World Championships. Photo/ERICK BARASA

Wanyonyi clocked a world record of 1:43.76 for the Under 20 level on his way to clinching the world title on home soil.

Despite missing out on a podium place at last year’s World Championships in Oregon, Wanyonyi picked himself up admirably to dominate this year’s Diamond League circuit by collecting wins in Rabat, Paris, Xiamen and Prefontaine.

He clocked 1:44.53 at the World Championships in Budapest to collect his first medal at the senior level – a silver.

Cherotich was a bronze medalist at the 2021 World Under 20 Championships in Nairobi before clinching the world title at last year’s edition of the same competition in Cali, Colombia, timing 9:16.14 in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.

Faith Cherotich in action during the women’s 3000m steeplechase final at the World Athletics U20 Championships at Pascual Guerrero stadium on August 3, 2022 in Cali, Colombia. PHOTO/Eric Barasa

The 19-year-old from Kalyet in Kericho County began her transition into the senior ranks by missing out on a podium place at February’s World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia.

However, Cherotich recovered to perform admirably well against seasoned runners in the Diamond League circuit, finishing third in the women’s 3000m steeplechase at Doha, Zurich and Prefontaine legs.

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Her time of 9:00.69 in Budapest was enough to earn her bronze and with it, announce herself as one to watch in the coming years as far as the water-and-barriers race is concerned.  

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