Faith Kipyegon is ranked among the most successful middle- and long-distance female runners in history. Her achievements have earned her worldwide recognition and acclaim.
Recently, she made headlines by smashing the Diamond League world record in Monaco, her third world record in two months. The 29-year-old clocked 4 minutes 7.64 seconds in her first mile race since 2016.
Here is her inspiring story as told by WoK.
Kipyegon became a first-time mother in 2018. She says birthing her daughter Alyn gave her extra energy, which has enabled her to push herself mentally and physically in training.
However, she says life after birth is challenging as she has to balance both athletics and motherhood.
“I have to juggle between motherhood and my athletics career. It’s not easy, but it’s not something that gives me headaches. I have learnt to push myself, and my daughter understands my career,” she revealed in a recent interview.
To balance athletics and motherhood, she says it’s just a matter of sacrifice and knowing what one is doing.
Her daughter, whom she considers her greatest fan, watches her races and congratulates her whenever she wins. After every race, Alyn video calls her through WhatsApp and congratulates her.
Faith says she would not be surprised if her daughter takes after her and embraces a running career. This is because she has ‘running genes’, as her father, Timothy Kitum, is also a middle-distance runner who won the bronze medal in the 800 meters at the 2012 Olympics.
“So, yeah, she has the genes of running, and we hope to see what she can do in future,” says Faith.
While it’s not easy to balance being an elite athlete, a mum, and a wife, Faith attributes her success to the people around her, whom she says are very supportive. These include her husband, manager, coach, and training partners.
Faith Kipyegon stepped into the limelight in 2010 after becoming the youngest Kenyan athlete to win the cross-country races in Poland. She was also the only athlete who ran the race barefoot, despite the track being muddy.
She later disclosed that she turned down the Nike running shoes from her sponsors because she was more comfortable running barefoot.
The 29-year-old became an Olympic champion for the first time in 2016, just a year after sitting for her KCSE examination. The win surprised her as she was not expecting to win the gold medal at the time because the veteran Ethiopian athlete Tirunesh Dibaba was also participating in the race.
“When I saw Dibaba, I automatically ranked myself in number two or three,” says Kipyegon.
However, she decided to do her best to get any medal, be it gold, silver, or bronze. Her win was so historic that her parents received electricity from the government. Formerly, they could not afford the installation expenses as their home was too far from the nearest transformer.
She won her second Olympics gold medal in 2021, her first as a mom. Her current ambition is to be the greatest 1500 female athlete of all time and mentor upcoming athletes.
Fun Facts about Faith Kipyegon:
She often googles herself
Her favorite meal is chapati and meat.
Her favorite songs are gospel songs by Lilian Rotich
She loves Nigerian movies
Favorite YouTube content: Athletic videos
Favorite Kenyan Tv show: Selina on Maisha Magic East