Following their match at the most recent World Athletics Championships, Beatrice Chepkoech lost twice in a row to Winfred Mutile Yavi in the Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League 2023.

In the world of track and field, there is no doubt that Chepkoech has been one of the dominant figures in the past decade, as she set the world record for the fastest woman to ever finish a 3000 meter steeplechase race in just 8:44.32 minutes. An astounding feat, if you ask anyone. And she backed this up with another victory in the 2019 World Athletics Championships, when she clocked 8:54.84 minutes, easily edging out her fierce competitors in the field.

Race after race, Chepkoech eventually earned her place among the best athletes; however, her reign eventually ended in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she placed seventh out of the sixteen athletes in the field. The Kenyan favorite also suffered a hamstring injury in the past, causing her to even opt out of the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

This year, though, Chepkoech pushed through and adamantly decided she would join this year’s competition despite not being fully recovered from her injury. 

On Sunday, Aug 27, she was able to exceed all expectations when she achieved a second-place finish in the women’s 3000 m Steeplechase, clocking 8:58:98. At the start of the race, she was in a strong position to take the lead, but Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, the fourth-place finisher in her previous race, gradually closed the gap and eventually caught up with her in the penultimate lap. Yavi, in the end, was able to take her first ever gold medal in the event.

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Nevertheless, Chepkoech was still happy with the results. In an interview, she said:

 “This silver feels like gold to me. The last few years have been tough due to my injury. Coming back is something special for me. After being out for the last two years it has been so hard.

“Since the 2020 Olympics I have been struggling and I thought I might never come back. But tonight proves I am still strong. I train with Moraa (Mary, the 800m winner), but I couldn’t watch her race. I am so happy for her because it has been so long she has been waiting for this. It is an incredible night for Kenya.”

On Friday, September 1, the two faced off again in the Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League 2023. However, Yavi, who remained determined to defend her title, came out victorious once again when she clocked out at 9:03.19. She was followed closely by Chepkoech, who finished the race in 9:03.70. 

Yavi, in a post-interview, said that she wanted to confirm her victory in this race as well.

I have dreamed about this for a long time and it makes me feel that I have to believe in myself and to keep on believing. I am very excited – today, it felt almost like the same race as in Budapest so I wanted to confirm my victory,” Yavi said.

Despite her defeat, Chepkoech was still pleased with her silver medal and even acknowledged that this race was easier than the strenuous one last week:

I think today it was so easy because we did not want to push hard after the World Championships in Budapest. You know, in Budapest we went out hard, and I felt that my body was shutting down, but after running that global final my body started to coming back up again,” the 3000 m steeplechase world record holder said.

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