The barrier busting form of steeplechase world champion Hyvin Kiyeng has been one of the success stories of the last 12 months. This is how the Kenyan went from reading about the sport in magazines to becoming one of the fastest her event has ever seen.

At last year’s momentous Beijing World Championships little matched the rousing climax to the women's 3000m steeplechase final.

Five were in medal contention entering the home straight. Coming off the last barrier, German Gesa Felicitas Krause held a 2m lead from Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi with Hyvin Kiyeng a further half metre back. As Krause’s bid for gold withered in the grimace-inducing final stages, Kiyeng produced an exhilarating burst of acceleration to take the world title. It was a perfectly-judged performance that won the Kenyan her first ever global medal.

“I had confidence, but it was not easy because I really had to fight,” says Kiyeng, 24, of her lip-smacking success in the Bird's Nest. “I did not know I had got it for certain until I looked up at the giant [results] screen. When I did, I was amazed to see my name.”

Since winning the world title, Kiyeng’s confidence has soared. She has taken a grip of this season’s Diamond Race standings with wins in Shanghai and Oslo, though her most noteworthy perfomance came when placing second in Eugene. At Hayward Field she ran a brilliant 9:00.01 – just 0.04 behind the Bahraini teenager Ruth Jebet – to catapult to number three on the all-time world lists (Jebet advanced to number two).

It was a classic “catch me if you can” battle that saw Kiyeng reel in Jebet’s 20m lead on the final lap, but fall just short on the dip. Had the race been one metre further, the fast-finishing Kenyan would have triumphed.

Hyvin Jepkemoi ()

Kiyeng (left) went number three all time (9:00.01) at the 2016 Eugene Diamond League meet, losing by a nose to Ruth Jebet (8:59.97)

Despite the defeat, the diminutive steeplechaser remains at the forefront of her event in a sport that has long been a part of Kiyeng's soul.

“I liked athletics since I was very young,” says Kiyeng, the fifth eldest of eight children, of her upbringing on a farm in the Northern Rift Valley. “I used to buy sports magazines and I liked to read about Eliud Kipchoge, Catherine Ndereba and Isabella Ochichi.”

Nonetheless, because of her commitment to school she only began seriously competing in the sport aged “17 or 18”. She proved a quick learner.

Aged 19, Kiyeng finished fifth in the 5000m at the Kenyan Championships behind Sylvia Kibet, earning selection for the 12-and-a-half lap event at the All-Africa Games in Mozambique. But an injury to another Kenyan steeplechaser led the team manager to ask if anyone would like to fill the void. Kiyeng, keen to enrich her athletics experience, stepped up.

Just two days after finishing fourth in the 5000m – in a then PB 15:42.64 – she struck steeplechase gold, running 10:00.50 on her debut. She had found her calling.

“That first race went well,” she recalls with understatement. “At first I did not go in front, I just followed people. It was only in the last 400m I decided to go.”

Hyvin Jepkemoi ()

At the 2013 Moscow World Championships, Kiyeng finished sixth behind compatriots Milcah Cheywa and Lydiah Chepkurui, who finished 1-2

In 2012 – her first full season at the event – she ran a PB of 9:23.53 for bronze at the African Championships in Benin. The following year she cemented her international class with third at Kenya’s World Championships Trials, later placing sixth at her first ever global championships at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Kiyeng had enjoyed an incredible rise to the sport’s upper echelons, but still she lacked confidence, lacked “the courage” to go all out at the highest level. Her career plateaued in 2014, but then last she made a huge leap forward that reignited the spark.

Training in Kaptagat under the guidance of a three-strong coaching team led by Patrick Sang – himself an Olympic and world champs steeplechase silver medallist – Kiyeng believes she was far better prepared for last season thanks to a shift in approach. Her high-quality group includes two-time London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge – “he’s my mentor and a very good man” – and it has helped her put all the pieces of the puzzle in place.

“I have learned some new things and this change in focus from when I was younger has allowed me to be more confident,” says Kiyeng, who travels up to an hour to train at the nearest track situated in Eldoret. “I have learned the importance of not only training, but also sleep and rest.”

This balance showed at the tail-end of last summer, as Kiyeng followed her world championship gold medal by blitzing to a PB 9:10.15 two weeks later in Brussels. Now, even after her energy-sapping battle with Jebet in Eugene that left her just a second shy of Gulnara Galkina's eight-year-old world record, Kiyeng is one of the athletes to watch for the remainder of the season.

So what are her expectations?

“It is now all about the Olympic Games and the aim is, of course, to win the gold medal,” says the gospel music-loving Kenyan.

And the world record?

“Yes, that is my future ambition and my goal to come.”