Cheptegei makes season track bow in LA

Joshua Cheptegei is readying for Paris. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

Cheptegei is bidding to win the 10000m title at the Paris Olympics in France come August before turning his long-distance running career to the road.

For Joshua Cheptegei, this is a very critical time. Each passing day, he continues to feel a heavier weight of expectation from his motherland.

Cheptegei is bidding to win the 10000m title at the Paris Olympics in France come August before turning his long-distance running career to the road.

Early this year, he settled for sixth place in the senior men’s 10km event during the World Athletics Cross-country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. The medal miss only left the 27-year-old a very hungry man.

And now, Cheptegei has made tough decisions to just amplify his concentration. Prior to Paris, he is scheduled for some warm-up track events.

“My preparations for the Olympics are on a positive note,” Cheptegei told this paper in a recent chat. “I should be at 80 percent of my preparations. What is left is a few track meets,” he added.

Cheptegei will make his season bow on track on Saturday morning when he competes in the 5000m event during the USA Track & Field Los Angeles Grand Prix in California, USA.

Cheptegei has reason to smile. PHOTO/DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE 

“Having fun,” his coach Addy Ruiter said Cheptegei won’t be under much pressure in Los Angeles, considering the quality of the field at Drake Stadium.

His real test will come against a quality 5000m field comprising compatriot Jacob Kiplimo, Ethiopian cast of reigning 10000m Olympic Selemon Barega, current world number one Yomif Kejelcha and Berihu Aregawi during the Wanda Diamond League (DL) meeting in Oslo, Norway on May 30.

“In Oslo he will like to test himself seriously,” added Ruiter. The race in California will be three-time reigning 10000m world champion Cheptegei’s first track race since winning his 25-lap world title in Budapest, Hungary some 271 days ago.

In between, he has run three races on the road, including a forgettable 42km debut during the Valencia Marathon in Spain last December.

Meanwhile, another Ugandan Halimah Nakaayi will line-up in the field for the women’s 400m race on Saturday to test her speed against Olympic 800m champion American Athing Mu and reigning 800m world champion Mary Moraa of Kenya.

“I plan to run better than the previous race,” said 2019 world champion Nakaayi. Nakaayi came fifth over the two-lap race during the Doha DL in Qatar last week.

American star Mu last raced competitively during the DL final in Eugene, USA last September.



6:54am: Joshua Cheptegei - Men’s 5000m

10pm: Halimah Nakaayi - Women’s 400m


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


Mar 30: World X-Country (6th, 28:24)

Mar 16: Laredo 10K (2nd, 25:53)


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)