Cheptegei Now Eyes Set On 10,000m Record

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, wearing an Uganda national flag on his shoulders, poses for pictures next to the timer screen after breaking the world record in the men’s 5000metre event during the Diamond League Athletics Meeting at The Louis II Stadium in Monaco on August 14, 2020

KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA SPORTS|Freshly minted 5,000 metres world record holder Joshua Cheptegei will be looking to smash the 10,000m world record before the Olympics.

However, the Ugandan, 23,  said it will depend on if organisers of Diamond League races and other major events include the 5,000m and 10,000m races.

Cheptegei, who is also the World Cross Country Championships 10km champion, shattered Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year-old world 5,000m record on Friday last week, setting a new time of 12 minutes and 35.36 seconds during the Diamond League leg in Monaco.

“I would like to improve my 5,000m world record as well as take a shot at the 10,000m world record. I’m in good shape. Let’s hope more long distance events on the track will be organised,” he said.

Bekele, who has since moved to road running, holds the 10,000m world record, having broken it twice – the first time on June 8, 2004 (26:20. 31) in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and on August 26, 2005 (26:17.53) in Brussels, Belgium.

Cheptegei is alive to the fact that staying healthy is key during the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s hard to predict the future since it’s in God’s hands. The best you can do is to strive to remain healthy,”  he said.

The 10,000m race had not been held as a Diamond League event for over five years and World Athletics (WA) scrapped the competition entirely from the Diamond League alongside 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase last year. The longest track race is 3,000m but events that will accommodate 5,000m and 10,000m won’t have them featured on prime time.

The move was not taken lightly by countries that have dominated the races like Kenya and Ethiopia who protested to WA. The body would then come up with Continental Tour events to accommodate those events that had been scrapped from the Diamond League.

It’s left to be seen whether other Diamond League events will open up to the distant races after Monaco slotted in men’s and women’s 5,000m races that were the highlight of the night.

Before Cheptegei’s world record, women’s 5,000m world champion Hellen Obiri smashed the meeting record over the distance. Obiri, the 2016 Rio Olympic 5,000m silver medallist, won a thrilling showdown with world 10,000m silver medallist Letesenbet Gidey from Ethiopia, underling her prowess in a meeting record time of 14:22.12.

Only four events have been lined up in this year’s Diamond League series that have been delayed with some events being scrapped owing to Covid-19.

The next events are in Stockholm, Sweden on August 23; Rome, Italy on September 18 and Doha on September 25. (SOURCE DAILY NATION)

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