As the World Athletics Championships in Budapest approach, the spotlight is shining brightly on the women's middle and long-distance track events. These races, encompassing distances from 800m to 10,000m, are set to feature a stunning array of talent, with several seasoned athletes and emerging stars ready to battle it out for global supremacy.
Women’s 800 metres:
Keely Hodgkinson will be looking to add her first world title to the gold medals at the European outdoor Championships in Munich 2022 and in the past two editions of the European Indoor Championships in Torun 2021 and Istanbul 2023. The British 21-year-old athlete also finished second at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 in 1:55.88, at the World Championships in Eugene 2022 in 1:56.38 and at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022 with 1:57.40.
Hodgkinson started the 2023 outdoor season with a win in the Diamond League meeting in Paris in a world seasonal lead of 1:55.77. She finished second in Lausanne in 1:58.37, won the British title in Manchester in 1:58.26 and the European Under 23 Championships bronze medal in the 400 metres in 51.76.
Hodgkinson will face Mary Moraa from Kenya, who won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Eugene in 1:56.71 and the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 1:57.07. Moraa showed her great form this year by winning three Diamond League races in Rabat in 1:58.93, in Lausanne in 1:57.43 and in Chorzow in 1:56.85.
The Kenyan team will be also represented by 19-year-old Peninah Muthoni Mutisya, who won the 800 metres at the Kenyan Trials in 1:59.55 and won in Lucerne in 1:58.78, and Vivian Chebet Kiprotich, who improved her PB to 1:58.80 in Huelva and finished second at the Kenyan Trials and in Lucerne in 1:59.71.
Athing Mu will defend her world title one year after winning in Eugene in 1:56.30. The US athlete made her breakthrough in 2021 when she won the Olympic gold medal in 1:55.21 in Tokyo and the 800 metres race at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene setting the US record with 1:55.04. This year Mu won the 800 metres at the New York Grand Prix in 1:58.73 and finished second in the 1500 metres in 4:03.44 at the US Championships.
Jemma Reekie from Great Britain set the third fastest time in the world when she won the 800 metres at the London Diamond League meeting in 1:57.30. Reekie came close to the Olympic medal when she finished fourth in Tokyo in 1:56.90.
Natoya Goule Toppin from Jamaica will chase her first global medal after finishing eighth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and fifth at the World Championships in Eugene. The Jamaican athlete won the Jamaican Trials in Kingston and finished third in Chorzow in 1:57.90 and second in London in a seasonal best of 1:57.61.
Halimah Nakaayi from Uganda will try to win another medal at these Championships four years after winning the world gold medal in Doha 2019. Nakaayi broke the national record with 1:57.62 at the London Diamond League.
Catriona Bisset from Australia also dipped under the 1:58 barrier this year improving her Oceanian record to 1:57.78 in Chorzow.
Women’s 1500 metres:
Faith Kipyegon broke Genzebe Dibaba’s world record with 3:49.11 at the Golden Gala in Florence becoming the first woman to run under the 3:50 barrier. Kipyegon also set the world record over the mile distance at the Herculis meeting in Monaco with 4:07.64 after going through the intermediate 1500m split in 3:51.41. Kipyegon also won another Diamond League in Doha in 3:58.57.
Sifan Hassan has been entered in the 1500m, in the 5000m and in the 10000 metres. The Dutch athlete contested the same three events at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she won two gold medals in the 5000 metres and in the 10000 metres and the bronze in the 1500 metres. Hassan also won two gold medals in the 1500m in a European record of 3:51.95 and in the 10000m at the World Championships in Doha 2019 in 30:17.95.
The Ethiopian team will be formed by Hirut Meshesha, Birke Haylom and Diribe Welteji. Mehesha won the 1500 metres at the Memorial Kamila Skolimowska in Chorzow setting the third fastest time in the world this year with 3:54.87 and finished second in Ostrava in 3:57.87.
Haylom, world under 20 champion in the 1500m in Cali 2022, broke Zola Budd’s world under 20 record with 4:17.13 over the mile distance at the Bislett Games in Oslo and dipped under the 3:55 barrier with 3:54.93 in Chorzow.
Welteji won the world under 20 gold medal in the 1500m in Tampere and finished fourth in the 800m at the World Championships in Eugene in 1:57.02. This year she improved her PB to 3:55.08 in the 1500m in Chorzow.
Laura Muir is aiming to add another medal to her collection that includes two European gold medals in Berlin 2018 and Munich 2022, the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo 2021, the world bronze medal in Eugene 2022. Muir set her seasonal best of 3:57.09 at the Golden Gala in Florence and the British record over the mile distance with 4:15.24 in Monaco.
Another strong European contender is Clara Mageean from Ireland, who won two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and at the European Championships in Munich. Mageean broke Sonia O’Sullivan’s national records in the 1500m with 3:56.63 in Brussels in 2022 and 4:14.58 in the mile in Monaco in 2023.
The Kenyan team will be led by Nelly Chepchirchir, who finished fourth at the World Under 20 Championships in Cali 2022 and won the National Trials in Nairobi in 3:59.77. Chepchirchir improved her PBs to 1:58.23 in the 800 metres in Grosseto and 3:58.96 in the 1500m in Hengelo. The other top Kenyan athlete is Brenda Chebet, who won the world under 20 silver medal in the 1500 metres in Cali in 2022 and finished second at the Kenyan Trials in Nairobi 2023.
The Australian team will be represented by Jessica Hull and Linden Hall. Hull improved the Oceanian record with 3.57.29 at the Golden Gala in Florence. Hall ran faster than Hull setting another continental record with 3:57.27 in Chorzow.
Faith Kipyegon broke the world record in the 5000 metres clocking 14:05.20 in Paris Charley one week after her 1500 metres record in Florence. The world record in Paris came as a surprise as it was her first race over the longer distance since 2015 and the third ever. Kipyegon has become only the second woman in history to hold both the 1500m and 5000m world records simultaneously since 1969.
Kipyegon, who won the 5000 metres at the Kenyan Trials in 14:53.90 in Nairobi, will double up the 1500 and the 5000 metres in Budapest. The Kenyan athlete sliced 1.42 off the previous world record set by Letesenbet Gidey, who finished runner-up in the Paris race with 14:07.94. Gidey set the previous world record of 14:06.62 in Valencia in 2020 and her time is still the Ethiopian record.
Defending champion Gudaf Tsegay will chase her second world title in the 5000 metres one year after her triumph in Eugene in 14:46.29. Tsegay also won the Olympic bronze in Tokyo 2021 in 14:38.87. This year she set world indoor seasonal best times in the 1500m with 3:57.47 in Liévin, in the mile with 4:16.16 in Torun and 8:16.69 in the 3000 metres in Birmingham. During the current summer season Tsegay won the 5000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in London improving her PB to 14:12.29 and the 1500 metres in Chorzow in 3:54.03.
Beatrice Chebet won two Diamond League races in the 3000 metres in Oslo in 8:25.01 and in the 5000 metres in Stockolm in 14:36.52 and finished second in London in 14’12”92. In the past two seasons the Kenyan athlete collected the silver in the 5000 metres in Eugene, the gold medal in the 5000 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Diamond League Trophy in the 5000m in Zurich in 2022 and the gold medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst last March.
The Kenyan team will also feature Margaret Chelimo, who won two world medals (silver in the 5000 metres in Doha 2019 and bronze in the 10000m in Eugene 2022), Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, who won the African title in the 5000 metres and clocked 8:25.90 in the 3000 metres in Oslo and 14:23.05 in Paris this year.
Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands finished third in the 5000 metres at the London Diamond League meeting setting the European record with 14:13.42.
Ejgayehu Taye from Ethiopia finished third in the 5000 metres in 14:13.31 in the Paris Diamond League meeting.
The US team is led by Alicia Monson, who finished second at the National Championships in Eugene and improved the national record clocking 14:19.45 at the London Diamond League meeting.
Gudaf Tsegay set the fastest time in the world this year in the 10000 metres with 29:29.73 at the Ethiopian Trials in Nerja moving to fourth in the world all-time list. In that race Tsegay beat Ejgayehu Taye (29:57.45) and Lemlem Hailu (29:59.15).
Sifan Hassan won the gold medals in the 1500m and 10000 at the World Championships in Doha 2019 becoming the first male or female in history to win both these events at the same edition of the World Championships or Olympic Games. She held the world record in the 10000 metres for two days in June 2021 with 29:06.82 in Hengelo 2021. Hassan’s record was improved by Letesenbet Gidey, who clocked 29:01.03 during the Ethiopian Trials in Hengelo two years ago.
Hassan won the London Marathon with 2:18:33 last April. Just 41 days after her marathon debut Hassan competed in the 10000 metres and in the 1500 metres at the FBK Games in Hengelo, winning both events in 29:37.80 and in 3:58.12.
Grace Loibach Nawowuna finished second in the Hengelo race setting the third fastest time in the world this year with 29:47.42.
Eilish McColgan broke Paula Radcliffe’s 21-year-old British 10000 metres record by 0.23 seconds with a time of 30:00.86 in San Juan Capistrano (California). Only Hassan has run faster at European level. McColgan, won the Berlin Half Marathon setting the second fastest non-African time in history with 1:05.43. Last year McColgan, the daughter of Liz McColgan (world champion in the 10000 metres in Tokyo 1991), won the gold medal in the 10000 metres and the silver medal in the 5000m at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the silver medal in the 10000m and the bronze medal in the 5000m at the European Championships in Munich.
Women’s 3000 metres steeplechase:
World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech will face her compatriots Jackline Chepkoech and Faith Cherotich, Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai from Uganda, Winfred Mutile Yavi from Barhein, Sembo Almayew, Mekides Abebe and Zerfe Wondemagegn from Ethiopia, Marusa Mismas Zrimsek from Slovenia.
Beatrice Chepkoech, world record holder with 8:44.32 in Monaco, has returned to her best form winning the Lausanne Diamond League race in 9:05.98. The Kenyan athlete also won the Kenyan Trials in Niarobi in 9:09.43 and finished second behind Jackline Chepkoech at the Diamond League meeting in London with 9:04.34.
Jackline Chepkoech won the world under 20 gold medal in Nairobi 2021, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022 and two Diamond League races in Brussels 2022 with 9:02.43 and in London in 2023 in her PB of 8:57.35, the only performance under the 9 minutes barrier this season. Jackline was a World Athletics Rising Star nominee.
Beatrice beat Jackline three times in the Doha Diamond League meeting, in at the Kip Keino Classic and at the Kenyan Trials.
Nineteen-year-old Faith Cherotich, reigning world under 20 champion in Cali 2022, is ranked seventh in the world with her PB of 9:06.43 set in Doha last May.
World under 20 silver medallist Sembo Almayew is aiming to become the first Ethiopian athlete to win the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase in the history of the World championships. Almayew set the second fastest time in the world this year.
Mekides Abebe won the world bronze medal with 8:56.08 in Eugene 2022. Her compatriot Wondemagegn won the world under 20 silver medal in Nairobi and finished eighth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Winfred Mutile Yavi came very close to winning the world medal when she finished fourth in Doha 2019 and Eugene 2022. Yavi set the fourth fastest time in the world this year with 9:04.38 in Doha.
Emma Coburn, who won the world gold medal in London 2017 beating her compatriot Courtney Frerichs, will lead the US team, which also features Courtney Wayment (SB 9:11.41) and reigning national champion Krissy Gear (9.12.81) . Coburn won ten US titles and will make her sixth experience at the World Championships.
Mismas Zrimsek finished sixth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 9.14.84 and improved her national record to 9:10.07 at the Diamond League in Florence.