“It was still a good race but the win was incredibly difficult to break,” Joshua Cheptegei said Sunday after crossing the finish line to win the 2021 5km Monaco Run in 13:11.
Cheptegei who returned to the scene of his 12:51 world record from last year further said he expects this year to be greater for him as he prepares for Tokyo and Olympics.
“I knew that I had to run the best way I always run. I did not want anything to distract me. I just ran to defend the title,” he said when asked why he removed the gloves mid the race.
“I expect to become great this year or even more,” he added.
Kenya's Bethwell Birgen finished in the second position with 13:15 and was followed by his colleague Davis Kiplangant who finished in 13:16.
Last year Cheptegei took 27 seconds off the official global 5km record mark after 1km splits of 2:31, 2:35, 2:36, 2:35 and 2:34.
The World 5,000m and 10,000m record holder was early this week named tourism ambassador by the Uganda Tourism Board.
“Today, we’ve reached an agreement with world champion @joshuacheptege1 as our tourism ambassador for brand Uganda. Welcome aboard, Joshua,” the Uganda Tourism Board tweeted on Wednesday.
Tourism is one of Uganda’s major foreign exchange earners as it attracts visitors who come to see a range of game including lions, giraffes, buffalos and others.
Others are attracted to the mountain gorillas in the forests in the southwest of the country along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Cheptegei, who is also the world cross-country champion, said he was deeply grateful to be given the “huge responsibility” of being his nation’s ambassador.
“I look forward to sharing my Ugandan story to the rest of the world. In the same breath, I wish to call upon every Ugandan, especially those in the diaspora to make it a point to visit and discover more about this our country,” he added.