3. Celliphine Chepteek Chespol (3000m Steeplechase)
Only a few athletes can lay claim to beating the World Record (WR) holder in their event, and Kenya’s Celliphine Chepteek Chespol falls into the exclusive class of such athletes. The petite 18-year old has already begun to position herself as one of the best in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, and it remains to be seen how well she holds her own in London.
The 2015 IAAF World Youth Champion upgraded to World Junior Champion in 2016, and is now posing a threat to her seniors, considering her streak of impressive performances this year. Chespol competed in four Diamond League meetings this year, finishing 4th in Doha and then improving to 2nd position in Shanghai.
Chespol was in a class of her own at the Eugene Diamond League where she stunned WR holder Ruth Jebet and the rest of the field to set a scorching World Lead (WL) and Personal Best (PB) of 8:58.78, even though one of her shoes slipped off on the water jump. The time is the fastest ever on American soil and second fastest on the all-time list. It also makes the Kenyan the only woman to have dipped under nine minutes this season.
At the next Diamond League meeting in Paris, many expected Chespol to replicate this performance but she seemed to have tired out early, and was overtaken by compatriots Beatrice Chepkoech and reigning World Champion Hyvin Kiyeng. Nevertheless, she was able to claim the Kenyan Senior title with 9:34.03 to finish ahead of Chepkoech.
WR holder Jebet won only one of her four Diamond League races this year, which suggests that she may not be in the same form that saw her win the Olympic title last year. Nevertheless, Chespol will still have to contend with her more experienced teammates Kiyeng and Chepkoech who both look good for GOLD. Can the teenager come of age in London?