Cheptegei eyes historic double

Uganda's Oscar Chelimo (L) crosses the finish line to win the heat in the men's 5000m heats during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on July 21, 2022. AFP

Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei and Oscar Chelimo will hope to wrap up Uganda’s show on a high when they line up for the men’s 5000m final on the last day at the Oregon World Athletics Championships tomorrow.

The early hours of Monday, equivalent to Sunday evening here on the west coast, will demand something special from Cheptegei, who is bidding to make history at the Hayward Field.

After retaining his 10000m crown last Saturday, the 25-year-old is now aiming to become the only third man in history to do a long-distance double at the Worlds.

“I am entered here because I want to win the title,” Cheptegei told this paper early this week. Only Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele at the Berlin 2009 edition in Germany and Great Britain’s Mo Farah have completed successful doubles.

World record holder Cheptegei however, is keen on walking that path of history. “I feel my legs are okay. I am good to go for the final,” he said. 

Having posted 13:24.47, Cheptegei qualified in fourth place of Heat 1 on Thursday. His younger compatriot Oscar Chelimo won it in 13:24.24 but the two Ugandans have already sensed a tough field to encounter.

“After making changes in my training, I see my body is in good health (state),” remarked Chelimo, a junior bronze medallist at the 2019 World Cross-country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

A group of 15 men from nine countries form the pack set to go through the 12-and-a-half-lap race final here.

It includes Ethiopians in defending champion Edris Muktar, Selemon Barega who won silver behind him during the Doha Worlds in Qatar and the 2019 world 10000m silver medallist Yomif Kejelcha.

Barega, who won 10000m Olympic gold in Japan’s capital Tokyo last year, was beaten hands down in the 25-lap final here a week ago and he is motivated to stop Cheptegei.

Ethiopia may have the numerical advantage but the towering Kejelcha limped through the mixed zone on Thursday.

The other country will three entries is Kenya who have Nicholas Kipkorir, Daniel Ebenyo and Jacob Krop all fired up. Kenya has not tasted delight in this event since Benjamin Limo won it 17 years ago in Finland’s capital Helsinki.

Even on the last occasion they had three runners in this final, Caleb Ndiku came second behind Farah, Isiah Koech was eighth whereas Edwin Soi finished 10th at the 2015 Beijing Worlds in China.

The East Africans however must be worry of home boy Grant Fisher who came fourth in the 10000m final as well as his training partner Canadian Mohammed Ahmed. Ahmed won 5000m bronze in Doha.

The trickiest challenge could come from Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen who won the 1500m silver medal. The European record holder’s pace is capable of distorting the race plan for many.

OREGON WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

DAY EIGHT - UGANDANS IN ACTION TOMORROW

4:05am: Joshua Cheptegei, Oscar Chelimo (Men’s 5000m Final)

DAY EIGHT RESULTS

MEN’S 5000M HEAT 1

1 Oscar Chelimo (UGA) 13:24.24

2 Grant Fisher (USA) 13:24.44

3 Selemon Barega (ETH) 13:24.44

4 Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) 13:24.47

5 Abdihamid Nur (USA) 13:24.48

6 Nicholas Kipkorir (KEN) 13:24.56

MEN’S 5000M HEAT 2

1 Jacob Krop (KEN) 13:13.30

2 Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) 13:13.92

3 Luis Grijalva (GUA) 13:14.04

4 Yomif Kejelcha (ETH) 13:14.87

5 Mohammed Ahmed (CAN) 13:15.17

6 Daniel Ebenyo (KEN) 13:15.17

7 Muktar Edris (ETH) 13:21.19

8 Marc Scott (GBR) 13:22.54

9 Sam Parsons (GER) 13:24.50

14 Peter Maru (UGA) 13:47.65

CAST OF MEN’S 5000M WORLD CHAMPIONS

2003 Saint-Denis: Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)

2005 Helsinki: Benjamin Limo (KEN)

2007 Osaka: Bernard Lagat (USA)

2009 Berlin: Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)

2011 Daegu: Mo Farah (GBR)

2013 Moscow: Mo Farah (GBR)

2015 Beijing: Mo Farah (GBR)

2017 London: Muktar Edris (ETH)

2019 Doha: Muktar Edris (ETH)

LONG DISTANCE DOUBLES AT WORLDS

2009 Berlin: Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)

2013 Moscow: Mo Farah (GBR)

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