Talk about the late moments in sport and Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei has it all.
The 25-year old star athlete showed his prowess kicking and pacing in the last lap to win the 10,000m final at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA on Sunday.
After missing out on a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year, Cheptegei made sure he was a step better when he recorded a seasonal best time of time of 27:27.43, while Kenya’s Stanley Waithaka Mburu came second with a time of 27:27.90.
Another Jacob Kiplimo also showed good form as he took the lead at some point, but settled for third place in a time of 27:27.97.
“We thank God again for this good show by our athletes. They have worked hard and deserved to perform well,” Dominic Otuchet, President Uganda Athletics federation (UAF) said from Oregon.
In doing so, Cheptegei became only the fourth man to win back to back 10,000m world titles, following in the footsteps of Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele and Britain’s Mo Farah. His final lap was faster than Selemon Barega in Tokyo: 53.42.
“I knew that if I could get into the last fight, I could control it and I could speed it up,” said Cheptegei, who won the world U20 title back at Hayward Field eight years ago. “It was very emotional for me to come back to the USA where I started my international career in 2014. Now, I want to continue my dominance in long distance running and I hope I will manage it.”
Cheptegei is also the fastest athlete in both 5,000m and 10,000m. He will also be one of Uganda’s athletes at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games that start later this month.