Kenya: Faith Chepng'etich Ready for Sifa Hassan Duel in Tokyo

Olympic 1,500m women's champion Faith Chepng'etich is optimistic that she will retain her title at the Tokyo Games.

The 1,500m race will see the Kenyan rekindle her rivalry with Dutch's Sifan Hassan, who is looking to make history in Tokyo by winning gold in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m.

Chepngetich is the first Kenyan woman to win gold in the 1500m race at a World Championship, achieving the feat at the 2017 Worlds in London, before bagging silver medal in the Doha games in 2019.

Nation Sport caught up with the four-lap race queen at her training base in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet during her speed work session where she said that her preparations are complete.

"I have done good preparations and I know the race will be competitive and my target is to get into the finals where I know my friend Sifan will also be eyeing victory. For me it's a matter of winning and defending the title I won in 2016," said Chepng'etich.

The two met during the Monaco Diamond League race and Faith came out on top, narrowly missing the world record after timing a new national record of 3:51.07, which was also a world lead time.

Sifan clocked 3:53.60 to finish second, while Ethiopia's Hailu Freweyni was third in 3:56.28.

Chepng'etich said that she is aware that Sifan will be out to dethrone her, but remains confident of holding her off in Tokyo.

"I ran in Monaco and clocked my personal best and I wanted to gauge my performance ahead of the Olympic Games. I managed to identify some few areas which I have worked on and will give my best in Tokyo," said the mother of one.

The 1500m heats will be held on August 2, before the semi-finals take centre stage on August 4. The final is due on August 6.

It was a calculative race with the athletes following the wave lights, Chepng'etich ran from behind before unleashing her final kick where she zoomed past Sifan in the last 200m to claim victory.

It was sweet revenge for the Kaptagat-based athlete, who was beaten by Sifan during the Florence Diamond League last month, finishing second behind the Ethiopian-born Sifan.

In the 2016 Rio Games, Chepng'etich managed to beat a rich field after bagging victory in 4:08.92, finishing ahead of Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba (4:10.27) and USA's Jennifer Simpson.

Coming out of the woods after long period due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chepng'etich said that there have been great performances from various athletes and this might happen during the Olympic Games.

"Many athletes have been affected by the pandemic, but I'm happy because I managed to get various Diamond League races which have shaped me in the race. I even managed to participate in 800m race which I won and this was part of my preparations because I was testing my speed," she added.

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