History beckons for Cheptegei

Cheptegei, the world record holder, is seeking to become the fourth athlete to go back-to-back-to-back. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

The men’s 10000m final comes up Sundayt. Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei is back at this stage, with an aim to retain the 25-lap title.

BUDAPEST. Perhaps, this could be Uganda’s most important race here in the Hungarian capital during these 19th World Athletics Championships.

The men’s 10000m final comes up Sundayt. Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei is back at this stage, with an aim to retain the 25-lap title.

He waded off a plucky Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha to win it first at the Doha 2019 edition in Qatar and then produced superb tactics with the help of Jacob Kiplimo and Stephen Kissa to retain it at the Oregon 2022 edition in Eugene, USA.

The moment in Budapest holds more history. Cheptegei is aiming to become the fourth man in history to do back-to-back-to-back world titles over the distance after Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele as well as Mo Farah.

The 26-year-old could have been chasing four in four but Briton Farah pipped him to the gold at the London 2017 edition in England. “This may be my last championship on the track,” Cheptegei announced during the team’s flag off in Lugogo on Wednesday.

“It would be an honour to defend the title in Hungary,” he said. “Be on your screens and cheer us to the finish line,” he added.

Since Oregon, a lot has changed. Cheptegei struggled with a hamstring problem thereafter, consequently sitting out the rest of the year before losing his World Cross-country title in Bathurst, Australia in February.

A proper bounce-back has not come easy for the 26-year-old. He is actually yet to test victory in any competitive race this year but, he powered to his second and third fastest times ever over the 5000m races in Lausanne, Switzerland (12:41.61) and Florence, Italy (12:53.81) during the Diamond League (DL) season in June.  

“He is stronger than last year, but a few of his opponents also,” admitted his coach Addy Ruiter. If anything, Cheptegei has the toughest race yet to come and the two DL races and Bathurst prove it.

The plan is simple though for Uganda’s most decorated runner. “To make a hard race of it,” said Ruiter. “A big factor will be the temperature. The forecast is 33 degrees Celsius when the race starts.”

With the absence of Kiplimo, it implies Cheptegei will try to control the field from gun to tape. In the field of 27 men from 17 countries, he has the company of younger compatriots in Rogers Kibet and Joel Ayeko to check the field over the opening 7-12 laps.

However, the cast of Ethiopians led by in-form Aregawi who won silver in Bathurst and smartly won in Lausanne, Olympic 10000m champion Selemon Barega and Tadese Worku won’t want to be dominated.

There are also Kenyans in Nicholas Kipkorir, Daniel Ebenyo and Benard Kibet but the Americans Joe Klecker, William Kincaid and Grant Fisher, who came fourth in Oregon, cannot be overlooked.



5.05pm: Women’s 1500m Semi-Final (TBC)                        

5.35pm: Men’s 1500m Semi-Final (TBC)

6.25pm: Joshua Cheptegei, Joel Ayeko, Rogers Kibet (Men’s 10000m Final)


Athens 1997: Davis Kamoga (Silver, 400m)  

Helsinki 2005: Dorcus Inzikuru (Gold, 3000m SC) 

Osaka 2007: Moses Kipsiro (Bronze, 5000m)

Moscow 2013: Stephen Kiprotich (Gold, Marathon)

Beijing 2015: Solomon Mutai (Bronze, Marathon)

London 2017: Joshua Cheptegei (Silver, 10000m)

Doha 2019: Halimah Nakaayi (Gold, 800m)

Doha 2019: Joshua Cheptegei (Gold, 10000m)

Eugene 2022: Joshua Cheptegei (Gold, 10000m)

Eugene 2022: Jacob Kiplimo (Bronze, 10000m)

Eugene 2022: Oscar Chelimo (Bronze, 5000m)