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Kenyan among five female athletes set to battle it out for top gong

Joel Omotto @omottojoel

World 3,000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech is among the five finalists for the 2018 IAAF Female Athlete of the Year award.

Chepkoech was the only female Kenyan athlete who was shortlisted in the initial list of 10 in October and after a three-way voting process, she made it to the final five alongside British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, long jump and triple jump sensation Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia, Bahrain’s Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium.

She is on the list courtesy of an impressive 2018 season that saw her break the world record in the Monaco IAAF Diamond League in July backed up by the third-quickest mark of all time.

Chepkoech took more than eight seconds off the women’s world 3,000m steeplechase record, coming home, alone and triumphant, in 8:44.32.

That obliterated the mark of 8:52.78 set by Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet of Bahrain in winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris in 2016, and the 8:58.78 set in Eugene last year by her compatriot Celliphine Chespol.

Chepkoech also won seven out of eight steeplechase finals including the IAAF Continental Cup, African Championships and IAAF Diamond League final as well as claiming a silver medal for Kenya in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in the 1,500m race.

She will be hoping to become the second Kenyan to claim the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award after David Rudisha won the men’s gong in 2010 after a brilliant season that saw him break the world 800m record twice in as many weeks.

Chepkoech could, however, be the first Kenyan woman to claim the prestigious award after Vivian Cheruiyot was controversially pipped by Australian Sally Pearson in 2011 despite winning two world titles (5,000m and 10,000m) in that year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

A three-way voting process determined the finalists. The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family cast their votes by email, while fans voted online via the IAAF’s social media platforms.

The IAAF Council’s vote counted for 50 per cent, while the IAAF Family’s votes and the public votes each counted for 25 per cent of the final result.

The male and female World Athletes of the Year will be announced live on stage at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2018 on December 4 in Monaco with the winner for each title walking home with $100,000 (Sh10 million).

The male finalists will be announced today with Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, Timothy Cheruiyot and Emmanuel Korir hoping to be among them.

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