It is without a doubt that Joshua Cheptegei is Uganda’s ‘main man’ for the Monaco Diamond League event slated for this Friday 14 August 2020 at the Principality’s Louis II Stadium in Monaco.
The other Ugadans in the mix are; 800m world champion Halimah Nakaayi, Winnie Nannyondo and Samuel Kisa.
Cheptegei, 23, a 10,000m world champion broke the 5km road world record by 27 seconds in Monaco in February this year off 12 minutes, 51 seconds to smash the previous record, set by Kenya’s Rhonex Kipruto en route to victory at January’s Valencia 10k.
Cheptegei who will be competing at the men’s 5,000m heat at 9:30 p.m EAT is now banking on previous heroics ahead of the Friday Herculis EBS Meeting, which will be the first in-person Diamond League event of the season.
“My best memory in Monaco is naturally the World Record. It was great for me to run on the Formula One circuit. I enjoyed it so much. The world record is a lifetime achievement, not everybody can do it. It really motivates me ahead of the Friday event,” Cheptegei told the event’s website.
Needless to say, COVID-19 has been a damper on athletes’ plans since the early chapters of this year. However, for Cheptegei, the Uganda Police Force employee is still focused on his athletics career.
“Any professional athlete has goals. With everything happening after the Covid-19, you have to accept it, and try to find the solutions to make life still interesting. That’s why I’m focused on racing again,” Cheptegei added before he storms the track for the first time in about five months.
Cheptegei, who looks up to Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (also Ugandan) has now challenged himself to reach greater heights and claim more world titles.
“I want to discover the limits, my limits. If you believe in something, anything is possible. Breaking a record was something really difficult, but when you know the right way, it’s not difficult anymore. So, the next challenge is to go chase one or two more World Records. I would be the happiest person in the world,” Cheptegei said adding that; “I wanna be Olympic Champion too, I could then follow the steps of my role model Stephen (Kiprotich).”
However, for Nakaayi, following her triumph in Doha last year, Nakaayi returns to action as the woman to beat over 800m, and will be out to claim her second ever win on the Diamond League circuit.
Nakaayi and countrymate Nannyondo will compete with other stars at the women’s 1,000m heat at 9:39 p.m EAT.
The Diamond League is an annual series of elite track and field athletic competitions comprising 15 of the best invitational athletics meetings. The series sits in the top tier of the World Athletics (formerly known as the IAAF) one-day meeting competitions.