Kapchorwa. Uganda’s 2018 Commonwealth Games double gold medalist Joshua Cheptegei could either be too ambitious, very impatient with slow progress or is an industrious man par excellence.
Despite the ongoing works on the government-funded Kiprotich High Altitude Training Centre in Kapchorwa District for Ugandan athletes, Mr Cheptegei has kicked off construction of his own Joshua Cheptegei Training Camp less than two kilometres away in Teryet Sub-county.
“I needed an immediate training facility to help me with great training sessions as Teryet [high altitude training centre] is still far from completion. You know talent wanes with age,” the 22-year-old long-distance runner told this newspaper in Kapchorwa at the weekend.
Afro Construction Company is executing Cheptegei’s project that started on November 20. Mr Cheptegei says he is building a modest training camp that will cost Shs60m, way below the Shs25 billion high altitude-training centre being worked on by government.
The camp, which this newspaper has seen, sits on six acres which Cheptegei bought early this year bordering Mt Elgon National Park. It lies some 2,450m above sea level and is 10 kilometres from Kapchorwa Town.
“My main objective is to tap the vast talent in Sebei [sub-region] and elsewhere, promote sporting skills among youth, promote tourism and attract investors to Sebei,” the six-feet lanky athlete said.
He added that he hopes to build a house near the facility for hostel purposes, a gym and procure a van for transporting athletes to various training areas.
Sports Commissioner at the Ministry of Sports Omara Apita welcomed Cheptegei’s personal initiative.
“We don’t have any problem with anyone building a camp. Many clubs have their own camps and Cheptegei’s initiative is okay because even the high altitude training centre is incomplete,” he said yesterday.
“When the high altitude training centre is complete by January 2020, national athletes like Cheptegei himself will also use it because it will have better facilities,” Mr Apita added.
Mr Cheptegei said he hopes to establish the Cheptegei Christmas Run that he started two years ago but did not take place this year after he was involved in an accident in Kapchorwa Town on December 22.
Mr Cheptegei also hopes to start a Cheptegei Foundation when he hangs up the racing boots.
High up on his 2019 schedule are the World Cross Country, World Championship and the Diamond leagues.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Duration. Construction of Teryet high altitude training centre has dragged on for more than eight years since the government promise.
President Museveni, in the aftermath of Moses Kipsiro’s Commonwealth Games double gold success in the 5,000 and 10,000m races in 2010, hinted at building the Teryet camp. When Stephen Kiprotich again won gold in the 2012 London Olympics, Mr Museveni reiterated the same. The inauguration of works was done in 2013.
Construction. The work started in February 2016. So far, the three-year project has born a hostel with an outside kitchen and a 3km-jogging track.