Cheptegei pursues Olympic ticket in Laredo

For Cheptegei, the Olympics cannot come quickly enough. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

The Paris 2024 Olympics are very important for Joshua Cheptegei. For a while, he has singled out these Games as a key stage to wrap up his long-distance track career.

The Paris 2024 Olympics are very important for Joshua Cheptegei. For a while, he has singled out these Games as a key stage to wrap up his long-distance track career.

Even after his marathon debut in Valencia, Spain last December, Cheptegei and his management insisted he would return to do the 10000m final in the French capital come August.

Cheptegei has not won the 25-lap gold medal at the Olympics in two attempts. And, that is his priority in 2024. But, he has a small matter to sort first.

The reigning 5000m Olympic champion must first secure a ticket to Paris and that’s why, he will compete at the Laredo 10K in Spain on Saturday. “I am happy to be racing back in Spain,” a jovial Cheptegei said in a message.

“The main goal will be running the qualification standard for Paris in the 10000m,” his coach Addy Ruiter said.

But, it’s ironic that, with about four months left for Paris, an athlete of Cheptegei's stature hasn’t qualified for his best event yet.

First, Cheptegei missed winning the 10000m gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games in Japan three years ago. He won silver behind Ethiopian Selemon Barega on a night he feared to fully execute tactics because of the humid conditions.

Ideally, if he were the champion in the Japanese capital, then he would have had a wildcard entry to Paris. 

Furthermore, the qualification window to Paris for this event has run since July 1, 2023 and closes July 4, 2024.

During this period, Cheptegei has run the 10000m on track or the 10K road race once: when he won the third straight world 25-lap title during the Budapest World Athletics Championships in Hungary last August.

However, Cheptegei conquered the Budapest field and hot conditions in a time of 27 minutes and 51.42 seconds, which was outside the qualifying time for Paris.

In Laredo where he competed and won back in 2016, Cheptegei must beat the 10K road standard of 27 minutes. Ruiter believes his runner hasn’t been troubled by changes in training in any way despite running a marathon three months ago.

“In training, totally not a problem. Even in the marathon preparation, he maintained his speed because of Paris,” the Dutchman said.

Cheptegei has not run the 10K road race since winning in Cannes, France two years ago and in Cantabria on Spain’s north coast, a pretty fast race is on cards.

The 27-year-old will be paced by training counterpart Naman Kipyeko up to about 3km. The organisers have entered his familiar foe Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha which means a pretty fast race on cards.


Date of birth: September 12, 1996

Major Races: 5000m, 10000m

Personal Bests: 5000m (12:35.36), 10000m (26:11.00), 21km (59:21)

Coach: Addy Ruiter

Manager: Jurrie van der Velden

Kit Sponsor: Nike


Dec 3: Valencia Marathon (37th, 2:08:59)

Aug 20: Budapest Worlds 10000m Final (1st, 27:51.42)

June 30: Lausanne DL (2nd, 12:41.61)

Jun 2: Florence DL (4th, 12:53.81)

Mar 19: New York Half-Marathon (2nd, 1:02:09)

Feb 18: World X-Country (3rd, 29:37)


Dec 31: NN San Silvestre 10K (1st, 27:09)

Jul 24: Oregon Worlds 5000m Final (9th, 13:13.12)

Jul 21: Oregon Worlds 5000m Heat 1 (4th, 13:24.47)

Jul 17: Oregon Worlds 10000m Final (1st, 27:27.43)

May 27: Prefontaine Classic 5000m (1st, 12:57.99)

Mar 6: Cannes 10K (1st, 26:49)