What you need to know:
- Highs & Highs. After winning 10,000m silver and 5,000m gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Cheptegei wrapped up his business on track by winning the two-mile run in Eugene last August.
At Joshua Cheptegei’s level, every year comes with its new demands and desire for greatness. He is now looking to create a special chapter of 2022 by defending his world 10000m title during the Oregon World Championships at the Hayward Field in Eugene, USA come July.
But before that, Cheptegei will be at the same venue tonight hoping to pass his own test - a world record (WR) attempt - over the 5000m during exciting Day One action of the Eugene Diamond League (DL).
“Dream big,” he posted via social media upon announcing his WR intentions. Cheptegei has every major track long-distance running honour except the 10000m Olympic gold, which he plots to get at the Paris 2024 Games.
In 2020, he collected three WRs including those of his idol Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele over the 5000m at the Monaco DL in France and that of the 10000m in Valencia, Spain.
After winning 10000m silver and 5000m gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Cheptegei wrapped up his business on track by winning the two-mile run at the Eugene last August.
He is now back at the same venue, hoping to post under 12 minutes and 35.36 seconds after running 12 and a half laps. Considering the 10-hour time difference, Cheptegei could offer a perfect breakfast to several Ugandans if he achieves his target.
“It’s really realistic if the weather conditions are fine,” his coach Addy Ruiter said. The Dutchman has spent four months away from his family to perfect the notes for Cheptegei.
“He is in better shape than last year,” Ruite said, “If it’s (shape) good enough for a world record, we will see,” he added.
Cheptegei has only run the Cannes 10K this year which he won in a world leading time of 26:49 minutes, a French all-comers record on March 6.
In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed and Cheptegei and his management chose to attempt the WRs. While breaking the 16-year-old 5000m mark in Monaco, Cheptegei had company of a pace setter in training partner Stephen Kissa. But the latter now has since switched to marathon and he will likely have to do it all on his own tonight. “The wavelight will stay at 12:35 time,” Ruiter noted.
Last year, Cheptegei failed to break the 25-year-old WR over the 3000m at the Ostrava Golden Spike in Czech Republic and it could partly have affected his mental fortitude before the Olympics.
In Eugene where his career began with a junior 10,000m gold medal in 2014, Cheptegei will hope to tick the boxes. He will be pushed by the 13-man field comprising Kenyan Daniel Ebenyo, home boy Somali-born American Hassan Mead, Briton Sam Atkin, and Ethiopian pairing of Nibret Melak and Milkesa Mengesha.
Prior to his race, there will be two other WR attempts with Burundian Francine Niyonsaba going for the women’s two-mile mark of 8:58.58 held by Meseret Defar since September 14, 2007.
Then, Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey will hope to break her own women’s world 5000m record time of 14:06.62 set on October 7, 2020.
Three other Ugandans; Halimah Nakaayi (800m), Winnie Nanyondo (1500m) and Peruth Chemutai (3000m steeplechase) will compete tomorrow night.
ATHLETICS-EUGENE DIAMOND LEAGUE
TOMORROW - WORLD RECORD ATTEMPTS
6:55am: Women’s Two-Mile - Francine Niyonsaba (BUR)
7:12am: Women’s 5000m - Letesenbet Gidey (ETH)
7:35am: Men’s 5000m - Joshua Cheptegei (UGA)
AT A GLANCE
Date of Birth:
September 12, 1996
5000m (12:35.36) 10000m (26:11.00)
Coach: Addy Ruiter
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden