This is Justin Lagat’s preview of the Day 4 distance races in Budapest. He is looking forward to both the Women’s 1,500m and the Men’s steeplechase finals on Tuesday night!
There were no finals in the middle and long-distance track events on the third day of Athletics at the Hungarian Athletics Center, but the two finals on Day four will be the men’s 3000m steeplechase and the women’s 1500m. There will also be heats of the Men 800m.
Finally, Morocco’s Soufiane El BAkkali will get to run against Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma in the steeplechase final after the two have seemingly avoided each other this season.
The battle between the two should be interesting to watch. While El Bakkali is the reigning World and Olympic Champion, Girma just set a world record for the event in June after running 7:52.11 at the Paris Diamond League.
There is a widespread belief that championship races are different from the diamond league races, that there are Diamond League and Championship winners, and that Girma will be there to prove it wrong or right.
Kenya still shows dominance in this event as it is the only country with more than two runners in the final. The youngster who won the first heat of the semi-finals, Simon Koech, will be worth watching out for as he could surprise the two big protagonists in the race.
If one gold medal is almost assured at the 2023 World Championships, it should be Faith Kipyegon winning gold in the 1500m final. The two-time Olympic and World Champion, who easily won her semi-final heat, has been in tremendous form this year. Within the last three months, she has set three world records, the 1500m, the 5000m, and the one mile.
In 2019, Sifan Hassan had to run the championships record of 3:51.95 to beat Kipyegon. This time around, it could require a world record to beat her.
The first day of the championships was not good for the Netherlands as Hassan had fallen just before the finish line, followed by a similar fate for the country in the 4 x 400m mixed relay when Femke Bol fell. Their baton slipped from her hand and crossed the finish line before she could get up to grab it.
Now that the chance to medal in the 10,000m is gone for her, Hassan will be intent on securing a medal in the 1500m event. But this will be a very tough race for her.
There are two youngsters to watch out for in this final. They are Ethiopia’s 17-year-old, Birke Haylom, and Kenya’s 20-year-old Nelly Chepchirchir.
Another exciting event of the evening that will happen before the two finals will be the first heats of the men’s 800m. While Kenyans have been on top of the world this season, with Emmanuel Wanyonyi running a World Leading time before his fellow countryman –who won’t be in the race for not qualifying at the national trials- came and set a new one of 1:43.22; the man who could upset them is Canada’s Marco Arop.
There are also two strong contenders from Algeria who have run under 1:44.00 this season; Slimane Moula and Djamel Sedjati.