What you need to know:
- Cheptegei produced arguably his best tactical display on track to retain his 10000m title during Day Three action of the on-going World Athletics Championships here at the Hayward Field.
There are now not enough superlatives to describe Joshua Cheptegei. Every race that comes by, he exhausts the words that can explain his alien talent.
Certainly, I now sometimes find it difficult to get newer words to headline his ever sweet scripts just like on Sunday.
Cheptegei produced arguably his best tactical display on track to retain his 10000m title during Day Three action of the on-going World Athletics Championships here at the Hayward Field.
The world record holder Cheptegei controlled the race for the longest spells and stamped his authority as the globe’s best long-distance runner to win the 25-lap race in a time of 27 minutes and 27.43 seconds in front of an ecstatic crowd at Sunday lunchtime here.
If one doubts that, here is the confirmation. Cheptegei has now won seven individual medals at the different global championships since the London 2017 Worlds. No one else comes close.
“It’s amazing,” he said moments after picking his medal. It is Uganda’s fourth gold at the Worlds. “It cements my dominance in the sport.”
Yesterday, Cheptegei relied on able compatriots Stephen Kissa and Jacob Kiplimo who finely mashed the field like boiled Irish potatoes ready for a weaning baby to eat.
The perfect day for Uganda on the west coast was sealed as Kiplimo surged through from sixth place to secure a bronze medal in a time of 27:27.97 behind Kenyan Stanley Mburu.
“This is something special to me, this is now a very big achievement,” said the 21-year-old, who also won the 10000m bronze medal in Tokyo.
Kissa came 24th in 29:21.10 and despite crossing the finish line last, the marathon national record holder must be delighted with the results of his colleagues.
To perfect the night for Ugandans back home, the trio at the podium were awarded by World Athletics Council Member Beatrice Ayikoru, some 40 minutes after a lap of honour, autographs and hugs.
Cheptegei ticked all boxes as desired with the first highlight achieving more silverware at Hayward, a venue where his career was birthed with the junior 10000m world title on July
“It’s spectacular to come here and do it again. It is something I really wanted to do,” he added. The second is earning sweet revenge on Ethiopian Selemon Barega who beat him to the 10000m Olympic title in Tokyo, Japan on July 30, 2021.
The Ugandans were beaten hands down a year ago in Tokyo when Cheptegei opted not to pull the field owing to the heat as Kissa had turned out as the pseudo-pace setter.
Inevitably, Barega led a crowd of seven at the bell to grab the Olympic title. Yesterday, he wasn’t giving any breathing space. “I was fully prepared to not only and ready to win the gold. I am disappointed but I take lessons from this,” the Ethiopian stated.
“I was not able to control the race, I was trying to catch up all the time,” the world 3000m indoor champion added. Upon the gun, Cheptegei quickly moved to second place and kept behind early leader Spaniard Carlos Mayo.
At 2400m, Cheptegei in third asked Kissa to lead and when the latter pulled the field, Barega was forced out of hiding at the back on the next lap.
Barega’s younger compatriot Tadese Worku kept tracking the two Ugandans upfront, who crossed 4000m at 11:11 minutes, which pace would have translated to about 28 minutes.
Sensing that, Cheptegei upped the ante now with Hamburg Marathon runner-up Kissa dropping to second. Barega again had to work and return to the front, Cheptegei second, Worku following.
Inside the final 12 laps, Kiplimo took the tempo a notch higher with a 64-second lap change and the field immediately split up. Three laps later, Kiplimo moved out to lane 2 for Cheptegei to lead again until about 800m to go when Mburu and Barega led.
However, Cheptegei came out of traffic at the bell to surge and overtake Mburu and by the time Barega attempted to chase properly inside the final 70m, Cheptegei was home.
Ethiopia’s day had begun brilliantly with Tamirat Tola peeling away at about 31km to win the men’s marathon final in a championship record time of two hours, five minutes and 36 seconds.
Uganda’s best runner was veteran Jackson Kiprop who came in 33rd place with Filex Chemongesi a place behind and Fred Musobo 40th.
CHEPTEGEI AT A GLANCE
Date of birth: September 12, 1996
Major Races: 5000m, 10000m
Personal Bests: 5000m (12:35.36), 10000m (26:11.00)
Coach: Addy Ruiter
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden
Kit Sponsor: Nike
MEN’S 10000M - CAST OF WORLD CHAMPIONS
Eugene 2022: Joshua Cheptegei (UGA)
Doha 2019: Joshua Cheptegei (UGA)
London 2017: Mo Farah (GBR)
Beijing 2015: Mo Farah (GBR)
Moscow 2013: Mo Farah (GBR)
Daegu 2011: Ibrahim Jeilan (ETH)
Berlin 2009: Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)
Osaka 2007: Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)
CHEPTEGEI AT MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
2014 World Junior Champs 4th, 5000m (13:32.84)
2014 World Junior Champs 1st, 10000m (28:32.86)
2014 African Champs DNF, 10000m (DNF)
2015 African Junior Champs 1st, 10000m (29:58.70)
2015 World Champs Beijing 9th, 10000m (27:48.89)
2016 Olympic Games Rio 8th, 5000m (13:09.17)
2016 Olympic Games Rio 6th, 10000m (27:10.06)
2017 World Cross-country 30th, Senior race (30:08)
2017 World Champs 2nd, 10000m (26:49.94)
2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Coast 1st, 5000m (13:50.83)
2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Coast 1st, 10000m (27:19.62)
2019 World Cross-country Champs 1st, 10km (31:40)
2019 World Champs Doha 1st, 10000m (26:48.36)
2020 Tokyo Olympics 1st, 5000m (12:58.15)
2022 World Champs 1st, 10000m (27:27.43)
2020 Tokyo Olympics 2nd, 10000m (27:43.63)