Joshua Cheptegei has made no secret of his desire to break the World Record (WR) over 5000m distance. After a stellar year, which included a World Cross-country title, the 5000m Diamond League trophy, 10000m world gold and the 10km WR, few doubted his ability to break Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele’s record set 16 years ago.
Cheptegei had continued his remarkable form by rewriting the 5km WR posting a time of 12:51 back in February at the Monaco Run 5K on February 16, taking 27 seconds off the previous WR.
He consequently viewed the city as the place where he could launch an assault on the 5000m record held by Bekele since May 31, 2004 in Hengelo, Netherlands.
Going for gold
“We are shooting for the WR. Monaco usually has very good weather conditions and a great track,” stated Jurrie van der Velden who manages Cheptegei and 800m queen Halima Nakaayi.
For the past three months however, Cheptegei’s dream hang in balance after government maintained the ban on international commercial air travel as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that brought sporting activities to a halt worldwide.
That changed this week with government softening its stance to allow Cheptegei, Nakaayi, Winnie Nanyondo and Stephen Kissa travel to France for the Monaco Diamond League due next Friday at the Stade Louis II track.
After weeks of lobbying, the athletes together with several officials from the Sports Ministry, National Council of Sports and Uganda Olympic Committee held a meeting together with the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni at State House Nakasero on Friday.
They were then expected to board a chartered Uganda Airlines flight to Nairobi from where they would link up with Kenyan athletes before traveling to France courtesy of another chartered flight organized by race organisers.
Cheptegei has been fronted as one of the biggest stars for the meet that will also be the first for several high profile athletes as international sport opens up.
His personal best of 12:57.41 which he set while winning the Diamond League trophy in Zurich, Switzerland last August, Cheptegei is 20 seconds from the target of 12:37.45 set by Bekele.