Strange as it sounds, being the fastest in the world does not automatically make one the fastest runner in Kenya. While Wycliffe Kinyamal is the world’s fastest runner this year in the men’s 800m, he could not make the team to the World Athletics championships in Budapest after being beaten to fourth place at the Kenyan trials.

This speaks volumes about the abundance of talent in the country and why we could have a number of relatively new and upcoming athletes causing surprises and upsets in Budapest.

Here are my picks to do the surprises:

Simon Koech, steeplechase, photo by Diamond League AG

1. Simon Koech

The youngster surprised many by winning the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the national trials and promising to restore Kenya’s glory in the event.

On his way to winning the Kenyan trials, the 20-year-old had won six other local races in the country, including the national championships. He secured his ticket to Budapest and proceeded to run a fast time of 8:04.19 to win the Monaco Diamond League. So far, he remains unbeaten this year.

Jackline Chepkoech, Wanda Diamond League
London Athletics Meet
July 23, 2023, London, England, U.K., photo by Kevin Morris

2. Jackline Chepkoech

From finishing seventh at the Doha Diamond League in May, Chepkoech’s form has been in an upward spiral, and the only runner who could beat her after June this year was Beatrice Chepkoech.

However, at the recent London Diamond League meet, she beat the world record holder in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase race and registered a new WL, MR, and PB of 8:57.35. So, she comes to Budapest as a world leader this year.

3. Alex Kipngetich

In a competitive race where the world leader in the men’s 800m failed to make the team, Kipngetich had won his heat and came back to be edged slightly by Emmanuel Wanyonyi in the final.

The 22-year-old national champion over the distance has not raced outside Kenya this outdoor season and is obviously going to get fans in Budapest wondering who he is, especially when he scoops a medal.

Faith Cherotich upgrades her bronze to gold at U20 steeple! photo by Marta Gorczynska

4. Faith Cherotich

The 19-year-old, reigning world U20 3000m steeplechase champion, has raced sparingly this year, finishing third at the Doha Diamond League in May, second at the Kip Keino Classic event, and doing just enough to get her in the team to Budapest after finishing third at the Kenyan trials.

Timothy Cheruiyot, Reynold Cheruiyot, (second in picture)USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix
Gold Label track & field meet
May 26, 2023, Los Angeles, USA, photo by Kevin Morris


5. Reynold Cheruiyot

Kenya’s 1500m national champion just turned 19 years last month and promises to be Kenya’s future hope in the men’s event. Before the national championships in May, Cheruiyot also won the Kip Keino Classic event. He finished in third in a tight contest for second place with Abel Kipsang at the national trials.


6. Nelly Chepchirchir

Given the big names in the women’s 1500m, Chepchirchir’s chances of shining look slim, but with a great running structure and amazing talent, it will be interesting to see how the emerging talent who won the Kenyan trials will perform in Budapest.