Much of Ugandan long-distance runner Joshua Cheptegei’s focus is on laying ground to win 10000m gold come the Tokyo Olympics in July.
But he is having positive distractions away from his programme. Six days after retaining his title at the Monaco Herculis Run in France, telecommunication giants MTN announced a sponsorship for Cheptegei in the eastern town of Mbale on Saturday.
The most notable element of the 2021-2022 deal is a Shs100m contribution by MTN towards the Joshua Cheptegei Foundation in Kapchorwa.
“This sponsorship with MTN is a very good gesture in honouring the success of a champion,” Cheptegei said after signing a dummy cheque with MTN CEO Wim Vanhelleputte.
“And as an individual and as a Foundation, I am so grateful and I am so honoured that I have a helping hand from people who actually support my vision. And it’s a great motivation towards achieving success at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in Japan,” he said.
Four days prior to winning the Monaco Run, Cheptegei had also sealed a multi-million year-long deal as Uganda’s tourism ambassador with Uganda Tourism Board.
The deal comes after months of courting the global athletics icon Cheptegei who has won five individual championship medals and set five world records (WR) in the last four years.
Weeks after breaking the 5000m WR last year, MTN rewarded Cheptegei with a cash prize of Shs123m to match his time of 12 min, 35.36 sec from the Monaco Diamond League Meeting on August 14.
And this time, MTN wants to be part of Cheptegei’s journey to the podium in Tokyo.
“We are doing this because he is the best,” said Vanhelleputte.
“We are also looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics where we hope and sure that he is going to amaze us and bring medals. This is the right time to associate with success and performance and a great personality with a great heart. His Foundation shows the commitment of giving back to his community where he is living,” he added.
This paper understands that part of the sponsorship will also see Cheptegei benefit commercially with a performance package for the 24-year-old if he wins gold or any other medal in Tokyo.
According to MTN, there is also a performance incentive for any other WRs that the reigning world 10000m champion will break.
Cheptegei has set four world records in his last six races.