After breaking the world records in the 1,500m on June 2 in Florence (3:49.11) and the 5,000m the following week in Paris (14:05.20), the double Olympic and world champion in the 1,500m aims for the "mile" (1,609 meters) on Friday in Monaco, the new goal of her glorious return from motherhood.

Since August 2020, she has won 26 of the 29 races in which she has participated, all distances combined (800 m, 1,000 m, 1,500 m, 3,000 m, 5,000 m, cross-country).

In the 1,500m, she won 17 races out of 18, winning in 2021 in Tokyo her second Olympic gold medal (after 2016), then a second world champion title in 2022 (after 2017).

In Florence, the 29-year-old Kenyan dedicated her world record "to all mothers".

"I know what women go through after maternity leave. They think it's the end of their lives. I want to prove them wrong," she told AFP on June 21, back in Kenya at the Kaptagat training camp.

"Rare" athlete

Faith Kipyegon interrupted her career in 2017 to start a family with her husband Timothy Kiptum, bronze medallist in the 800m in 2012 at the London Games.

"It wasn't easy but I was surrounded by people (...) who believed in me," she says. To come back, "you need a lot of mental strength, you have to be strong and courageous in everything you do."

After the birth of her daughter Alyn in June 2018, she "took the time to enjoy (her) little angel", but also to "get (her) body back in shape", losing 19 kilograms.

She joined the team of coach Patrick Sang, mentor to marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge, who discovered "one of the few athletes with abilities for great endurance and speed".

Faith Kipyegon lines up for 5,000m during the Kenyan World Championships, July 7, 2023 © SIMON MAINA / AFP/Archives

"She has a similar attitude towards life and racing to Eliud. I was really impressed," said the coach: "She never complains. She does the work (...) She's a very determined athlete."


"It's been a long road," says the ever-smiling Kipyegon, second to last in a family of eight who grew up in the village of Chebaraa in central Kenya.

She won her first individual title, as a junior world cross country champion, barefoot in 2011, at the age of 17.

"I was comfortable barefoot. I was young, I came from my village, I had never used spikes," she laughs: "Now I use spikes and I can't run barefoot!"

She is now a heroine in Kenya, home of long-distance and middle-distance running champions.

On her return from her crazy week in early June, she was received with great pomp by President William Ruto, who offered her a check for 5 million shillings (32,500 euros) and a house worth 6 million shillings (39,000 euros).

One of the tallest towers in the capital Nairobi was illuminated in his likeness by the main telecommunications operator Safaricom, which also paid him two million shillings (13,000 euros).

"All accomplished over 1,500 m"

Untouchable on 1,500 m, she now starts on 5,000 m, after having worked on her endurance alongside cross-country skiers and marathoners in Kaptagat.

Faith Kipyegon breaks the 1,500m world record in Florence, June 2, 2023 © Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP/Archives

"I accomplished everything and left my mark on 1,500 m. (...) I need to learn about other distances. That's why I lined up for the 5,000m" in Paris, she explains: "This is the way to go: 5,000m, 10,000m, marathon..."

In her first official 5,000m race since 2015, she broke the world record. Then won the 5,000m at the Kenyan trials on July 7.

At the World Championships in Budapest, she will seek a third title in the 1,500m and a first in the 5,000m.

"From there," smiles Patrick Sang, "we will explore the possibilities."

© 2023 AFP