KAMPALA. After his 10000m triumph at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar a week ago, Joshua Cheptegei was left with one honour to seal the legendary status in Uganda’s athletics hall of fame.
And that is winning an Olympic next year at the Tokyo Games in Japan. The 23-year-old will join Uganda’s only two Olympic gold medalists in John Aki Bua and Steven Kiprotich in case he wins his favourite 25-lap race in Asia.
And there are minimal doubts as Cheptegei has had a beautiful career trajectory since winning the 10000m gold at the World Junior Championships in Oregon, USA five years ago.
Tokyo will however be the climax for Cheptegei’s track career. “Track events are so demanding,” he said upon return from Doha early this week.
“You do not rest throughout the season unlike marathon where you only have to do three events in a year,” he spoke of his future plans.
Cheptegei aggravated his knee injury in 2018 when he raced to double victory 5000m and 10000m of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.
The athlete sat out the rest of the season due to the injury but he returned to produce the best time over the 15km distance in Netherlands.
He then survived a nasty accident in Kapchorwa five days before Christmas but he returned to shape in time to win the IAAF World Cross-country title in Denmark on March30, one that eluded him two years ago in Kololo.
Cheptegei, who also won the 5000m trophy at the IAAF Diamond League (DL), is also a potential candidate for the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year honour after success in Denmark, Doha and the DL.
In case he turns to road running, he will find time to manage his body and also his track in Teryet and other businesses he is yet to set up.
Chepetegi is also the chairperson of the Kapchorwa-based athletes association that seeks to redevelop their local township Boma grounds to accommodate a standard murram track and a football pitch.