What you need to know:
- Olympic and world champion Joshua Cheptegei from Kapchorwa, and Olympic and world bronze medalist Jacob Kiplimo from Kween District, outwitted Ethiopia and Kenya to win gold and bronze in the men’s 10,000m on Sunday.
Kapchorwa and Kween districts are still in celebratory mood after their sons’ victories on the world stage in the ongoing 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, US.
Olympic and world champion Joshua Cheptegei from Kapchorwa, and Olympic and world bronze medalist Jacob Kiplimo from Kween District, outwitted Ethiopia and Kenya to win gold and bronze in the men’s 10,000m on Sunday.
By yesterday, bars and eateries in Kapchorwa and Kween had thunderous music playing out in celebration of the two heroes.
Minutes to the games on Sunday night, residents clamoured to catch a glimpse of the sons of the soil making history.
Mr Stephenson Munerya’s home in Cheptandan Village, Kwoti Parish, Kapchorwa Municipality, is a busy place as residents flock the area to congratulate the family for making them proud.
In an interview with the Daily Monitor yesterday, the family testified how they sought God’s intervention through fasting and prayer for Cheptegei’s win.
Ms Esther Chemutai, Cheptegei’s younger sister, said the family devoted Cheptegei to God in the four days of intensive praying ahead of the games.
“We had to seek God’s grace because our biggest challengers were Ethiopians. We are very excited and proud that He answered our prayers after four days of fasting.”
Chemutai said his brother was very disappointed when he failed to win the 10,000m Olympic Gold in Tokyo last July.
“We were, however, very confident that he would win a medal this time because of his routine rigorous training. We are so excited about this victory,” she said.
Cheptegei and Kiplimo last year clinched Silver and Bronze respectively in the 10,000m finals in the Tokyo Olympics.
BBC reported that Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega upset Cheptegei to claim 10,000m Gold.
“We are overwhelmed with joy that he made a sweet revenge on Barega who proved to be a big threat,’’ she added.
Mr Isaac Kwemboi, the headteacher for Joshua Cheptegei Junior School, said he was confident Cheptegei would win gold because he had enough time for preparations.
“He was much more prepared than when he went for the Olympics. I am very happy for him, he is going to inspire our sons and daughters for generations to come,” he said.
Mr Munerya said while he was nervous, he was confident his son would win a medal.
“I was shivering and restless as he took on the Kenyans and Ethiopians. At one moment, I thought they were stronger when Joshua retreated to fourth position after leading for some time,” he said.
“He has brought honour and respect to my home once again. I pray he wins a double title again,” he added.
Cheptegei became the fourth man in history to defend a gold medal in Worlds 10,000m.
Mr Edward Twallah, Cheptegei’s former primary teacher, said the champion had put the little known Kwoti village on the world map.
“Everyone now wants to associate with Kwoti and Cheptegei’s family. I am happy that I laid a foundation to Cheptegei’s career as a teacher. We want the government to put up amenities here like water, roads and electricity. It should also fully invest in sports in the Sebei Sub-region through building state-of-the-art training facilities in all our districts,’’ he added.
Mr Twallah said it is a shame that the High Altitude Training Centre for athletics has taken ages to be completed.
“We want the government to expedite its construction. I don’t know what they [government] will tell us this time round,’’ he said.
Ms Everlyn Kubarika, the chairperson of Kapchorwa District, said there is a lot of untapped potential in Sebei. She asked the government to come up with a special grant for talent.
“We don’t only have to celebrate after winning but we should think of investing in sports. I am calling on the government to think of a special grant for Sebei Sub-region, specifically for sports,” she said. Mr Kubarika said the district has a meager budget for sports.
Mr Munerya reminded the government of its unfulfilled promises made to his family, including his son.
He said just after winning the Commonwealth double in Queensland, Australia, in Gold Coast in 2018, the government promised that they would build for him and Cheptegei descent homes, but this has not been fulfilled.
He said even when he went to State House after Cheptegei’s gold win in Qatar in World Championships, he was frustrated when he carried his memo to take to the President.
Among the demands in his memo was that he wanted to remind the President to extend water, electricity and a good road network to his home because he receives all kinds of dignitaries.
President Museveni while hosting the athletes after the Olympics last year promised to build houses for those who had won medals and their parents.