Uganda long distance running pair of Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo remain the top track athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The pair won Silver (27:43.63) and Bronze (27:43.88) respectively in the Men’s 10,000m race last week at the Olympic Stadium in Japan.
Cheptegei in particular was tipped to claim gold but Ethiopian runner Selemon Barega posted a winning time of 27:48.22 to steal the show after the Ugandan duo dominating headlines in the buildup.
At the men’s 5000m (heats) slated for Tuesday, 3rd August, Cheptegei and compatriot Kiplimo remain top favorites to earn themselves good finishes.
Cheptegei, 24 is World Record holder in the 5000m after breaking its 16-year-old fastest time at the Monaco Diamond League. He broke Kenenisa Bekele’s (Ethiopia) record by about two seconds with a winning time of 12 minutes 35.36 seconds to claim a career third world title. Bekele’s winning time was 12:37.35.
However, for Cheptegei, the 10,000m has been his focus at recent major championships and he won the world title for that distance in 2019. He is no stranger to doubling up, too, as he contested the 5000m and 10,000m in Rio and claimed gold in both events at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
However, in his only 5000m race of the year (2021), Cheptegei finished sixth at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Florence managing a time of 12:54.69, the second-fastest of his career. But in 2019 he rebounded from similar early-season results to win the Diamond League title against a high-quality field.
For Kiplimo, the 20 year old hasn’t been beaten on the track since the 2018 World U20 Championships. Last year he set a Ugandan 3000m record of 7:26.64, clocked a 5000m PB of 12:48.63 to win in Ostrava, won the world half marathon title in Gdynia and then set a national half marathon record of 57:37 in Valencia.
Kiplimo has only ran twice this year but won both of his races, clocking a world-leading PB of 26:33.93 over 10,000m and winning over 5000m in Lucerne in 12:55.60. He has never doubled up at a major championship, but he has the ability and endurance to be a big contender in both the 5000m and 10,000m. He will build up on his podium finish in the 1000m to better himself.
Other athletes to watch include Spain’s Mohamed Katir, one of the breakthrough sensations of the year, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale better known as a steeple chaser, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen who’s the European record-holder over 1500m (indoors and out), 2000m and 5000m, and the like.
The Olympic Games will wind down this coming weekend and Uganda’s hopes of silverware still remains in track events.