Olympic fine-tuning: In a bid to perfect speed to aid a long-distance track double pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics, Cheptegei will attempt to break the 25-year-old 3000m world record in Ostrava tomorrow night.
The choice to focus on speed ahead of the Tokyo Olympics will have long-distance star Joshua Cheptegei line-up for the 3000m race at the 60th Ostrava Golden Spike Meeting in Czech Republic tomorrow.
That decision made by Cheptegei in company of his manager Jurrie van der Velden and coach Addy Ruiter is to prepare him for the 5000m and 10000m double at the Tokyo Games.
For Cheptegei, conquering his favourite 10000m event is his priority come Tokyo, given the world champion has the required endurance already. And that 25-lap final comes first on July 30 at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo.
Focus on speed
However, it is the 5000m event, split into Heats on August 3 and a final set for three days later, that Cheptegei is giving more attention to, in the aspect of speed.
Already, the 24-year-old finished third over 1500m with a personal best of (PB) of 3:37.36 behind his training partner Ronald Musagala and Kenyan Kamar Etiang at the sixth Uganda Athletics Federation Trials on April 24 in Namboole.
Now at his Ostrava debut, Cheptegei wants to test his mettle by attempting to break the 3000m world record (WR) of 7:20.67 held by Kenyan Daniel Komen. It has stood the test of time since September 1, 1996.
“Trying to run a world record is an extra motivation to bring his speed even till a higher level and hopefully he will make a profit of it in Tokyo,” said Ruiter.
“After Ostrava, the focus in the last 10 weeks will be totally on Tokyo,” he said. Last year, Cheptegei broke the 5km WR in France before stripping Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele of his long-standing 5000m and 10000m WRs.
‘Toughest record to break’
Cheptegei’s PB over the 3000m is 7:33.26 and he may have a good sight of the Meeting record at 7:31.66, but the WR appears to be out of his reach.
Several greats, including Bekele, his fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie and steeplechase legend Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, have in the past tried to beat Komen’s mark but all failed.
“It is most probably the toughest distance record still out there to be broken,” said Jurrie, “It’s not impossible, but it’s a big ask,” he added.
In recent times, it is Jacob Kiplimo’s national record of 7:26.64 at the Rome Diamond League last September that has come closest to Komen’s time but it is the eighth fastest ever over the distance.
However, Cheptegei will be buoyed by the fact that he was about 20 seconds outside Bekele’s 5000m WR and he went on to obliterate it in Monaco last August.
Daniel Komen KEN 7:20.67 1996
H. El Guerrouj MAR 7:23.09 1999
Ali Saïdi-Sief ALG 7:25.02 2000
H. Gebrselassie ETH 7:25.09 1998
N. Morceli ALG 7:25.11 1994
Kenenisa Bekele ETH 7:25.79 2007
M. Mourhit BEL 7:26.62 2000
Jacob Kiplimo UGA 7:26.64 2020
J. Ingebrigtsen NOR 7:27.05 2020
Moses Kiptanui KEN 7:27.18 1995