Beatrice Chepkoech wins the steeplechase at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
Two years since a mid-race blunder cost her the chance of a medal, Beatrice Chepkoech made no such mistakes tonight and produced one of the most dominant steeplechase performances in World Championships history.
The world record-holder from Kenya had honed her tactics throughout the season on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, finding an approach that worked for her. Even without the help of a pacemaker, she was able to employ the same tactic in Doha tonight.
She went straight to the front and within the space of one lap she had built up a four-second lead over a chase pack that was led by 2015 world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, defending champion Emma Coburn, Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai and Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi.
Chepkoech covered the first kilometre in 2:52.95, putting her on schedule for a finishing time of 8:38 – six seconds inside her own world record. While she was unable to maintain world record schedule, her leading margin over her competitors grew and grew.
Behind her, 2017 world silver medallist Courtney Frerichs and Germany’s 2015 bronze medallist Gesa Felicitas Krause were trying their best to stay with the chase pack, which was now being led by Kiyeng and Chemutai with Coburn still in close contact.
With three laps to go, Chepkoech’s lead had grown to 50 metres. She passed the 2000m point in 5:55.28, still on schedule for a finishing time within nine minutes.
Coburn joined Kiyeng at the front of the chase pack with two laps to go and then started her long drive for home with 600 metres remaining. Yavi then moved past Kiyeng into third place.
The clock read 7:47.21 as the bell sounded for the final lap and Chepkoech was away and gone, her lead insurmountable. Coburn still looked strong in second and now had a comfortable lead over the rest of the chasers.
Chepkoech successfully negotiated the final barrier, still with Coburn in pursuit, while Krause flew through the water jump to move past Yavi into third place. Chepkoech crossed the line in a championship record of 8:57.84, Coburn following in a lifetime best of 9:02.35 to take the silver medal.
Krause held on to third place, breaking her own German record with 9:03.30, while Yavi was fourth in a PB of 9:05.68. With nine women finishing inside 9:20, it was the highest quality steeplechase final at a major championships.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF