Kipyegon warns rival she will defend title at World Championships

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NAIROBI, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon has thrown down the gauntlet after completing a successful comeback from maternity leave to the Prefontaine Classic race in Eugene, United States.

The race, the seventh stop in the Diamond League, cleared any doubts about the 24-year-old's ability and she took the moment to warn her rivals, she will be up for the fight to defend her world title in October in Doha, Qatar at the World Championships.

"It was a great comeback. It was god gift and I like what I have achieved. It is a challenge to be a mother and be an elite athlete, but I have to balance both and hope for the best," said Kipyegon on Monday.

Many critics, including Kipyegon, had low expectation of the star's performance on return to action after two years. However, she shocked the world with a race winning in under four minutes.

"I was not expecting to run below four minutes. It was a surprise to me to run 3:59 minutes. I wanted to run below four minutes and ten seconds. It was a really amazing with the time I attained. Now the challenge is to remain consistent and focused," she said.

A slew of fast finishers made the most of the women's 1,500m even as the Olympic champion Kipyegon - making her return to competition after maternity leave - held off final lap assaults by Great Britain's Laura Muir and the U.S.A's Shelby Houlihan.

Kipyegon's last circuit of 61.33 seconds put her 0.43 ahead of runner-up Muir, 3:59.04 to 3:59.47. Houlihan finished third in 3:59.64 with Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay taking fourth in 3:59.85.

Now Kipyegon has dared her opponents to try and catch her as she switches up a gear up in her return to action with target to dominate the World Championships.

"My focus is in Doha for the World Championships. I want to defend my title there," she added.

Kipyegon had been coy on her ability and targets in 2019 even as she gradually returned to training.

Her main focus was to be fit for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, but with an early peak, it would be a good idea to run two more races in July and August before heading to Doha.

However, what is certain is there is a new leader in 1,500m race, who will not shy away from sweeping away her opponents off the track. Kenya can afford to dream again. Enditem

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