Faith Kipyegon, the 2016 Olympic champion, came back in style on Sunday at the Prefontaine Classic, winning the 1,500m in 3:59.04, only one year since giving birth.
The Kenyan athlete finished in a 61 seconds final lap to take the win against a very strong field of women, including Canadian 1,500m standout Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, 2018 American 1,500m champion Shelby Houlihan and Olympian and World Championship finalist Laura Muir.
Faith Kipyegon• just back from athlete “Maternity Leave”• comes back to track• crushes• runs sub 4min 1500m (3:59.04) • wins NIKE’S PREFONTAINE CLASSIC against a stacked field• continues to be a mother to her 1yr old. 🔥 Mothers can’t be athletes … https://t.co/QOJJg5OOYx pic.twitter.com/t58bXAp9Mw
— Alysia Montaño (@AlysiaMontano) June 30, 2019
Alysia Montaño, a multi-time U.S. champion on the track, responded to Kipyegon’s result, acknowledging her accomplishment but also pointing out how it’s entirely possible for mothers to come back even stronger after pregnancy.
Montaño was the first woman to come forward earlier this year when multiple female athletes revealed their pregnancy stories and the pushback they received from their sponsors when announcing they would be having babies.
Women's 1500m world champion is back in winning ways.
— IAAF (@iaaforg) July 1, 2019
Kipyegon is just one example of the many mothers who, when given the appropriate time, are able to return to racing as strong as ever. The runner’s performance on Sunday indicates that she will once again be a serious contender for both World Championship and Olympic titles.
She said post-race that her goal was to run under 4:10, a mark she obliterated by 11 seconds. She told the IAAF, “My goal is to [go] to Doha, to defend my title.”