What you need to know:
- He has been backed to succeed by none other than world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, his stable-mate at the Netherlands-based NN Running Team
- Kissa will be doing the pace-making job along with Dutchman Roy Hoornweg, with the pair detailed to go through 2,000 metres in five minutes and five seconds with a three-kilometre goal set for a third pacemaker at 7:37
- On February 16 this year, just before Covid-19 struck, Cheptegei broke the five-kilometre road world record in Monaco with a run of 12:51
Uganda’s world 10,000 metres champion Joshua Cheptegei will be highly motivated by his record-breaking five-kilometre run in Monaco earlier this year as he chases the world 5,000 metres record in the principality on Friday night.
And he has been backed to succeed by none other than world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, his stable-mate at the Netherlands-based NN Running Team.
“Watching Joshua's Cheptegei running is like poetry in motion,” Kipchoge wrote on Facebook Thursday. “On Friday night (tonight) our Ugandan teammate is going to lower Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year-old world 5,000m record at the Monaco Diamond League,” Kipchoge added.
Bekele, also a member of the strong NN Running Team based in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, holds the 5,000m world record at 12:37.35 set at the Blankers-Koen Stadion in the Dutch city of Hengelo on May 31, 2004.
Cheptegei will also line up on the Stade Louis II track in Monaco Friday night for the Meeting Herculis EBS inspired by the gesture by Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who put the Monaco-bound Ugandan athletes on a chartered flight to the principality. Museveni and First Lady Janet hired the plane for Cheptegei, world 800 metres champion Halima Nakaayi, Winnie Nanyondo (Commonwealth Games 800m bronze medallist) and Stephen Kissa (Barcelona Half Marathon silver medallist).
Kissa will be doing the pace-making job along with Dutchman Roy Hoornweg, with the pair detailed to go through 2,000 metres in five minutes and five seconds with a three-kilometre goal set for a third pacemaker at 7:37.
Then Cheptegei will be left to battle against the clock, the average pace set at 2:31 per kilometre, according to NN Running Team’s pre-race analysis. The conditions in Monaco are expected to be brilliant for an evening of running.
“It’s a beautiful and fast track. The weather is beautiful, cool with slight wind,” said Kenyan coach Bernard Ouma who is leading a strong team of middle-distance runners, led by world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot to tonight’s season-opening Diamond League meeting.
“Joshua has broken three world records in the past and now he is going for his fourth world record. He has a strong belief. It is a realistic goal,” Cheptegei’s Dutch coach, Addy Ruiter, meanwhile, observed.
“I can see from his training he can run a very fast 5km, the conditions are usually very good in Monaco and I think he can run a world record otherwise why would he be going for it?”
On February 16 this year, just before Covid-19 struck, Cheptegei broke the five-kilometre road world record in Monaco with a run of 12:51.
“I was encouraged with my 5km world record in Monaco, and I thought there is no better place or time to attack the world 5,000m record than this year,” he told NN Running. “In 2021 we now have the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, followed by World Championships in 2022 and 2023 and the following year the Paris Olympics. I believe if there is a time to attack the world record, it is this year. It is now or never.”
His enviable record includes a World Cross Country Championships title, Diamond League 5,000m Trophy, world 10,000m title and world Under-20 10,000m crown, as well as a pair of Commonwealth gold medals. Yet just as impressive has been his unerring ability to target and set world records – doing so on the road over the 5km (12:51), 10km (26:38) and 15km (41:05) distances over the past couple of years.
Uganda went into lockdown in March and Joshua was forced to live at home and train solo for two months. During this period Addy pared back his training from 12 to eight sessions per week and he understandably lost some fitness.
Yet the tall distance runner took the challenging situation in his stride and chose to adopt a typically positive attitude.
“Of course Covid-19 has out a big strain not only on the athletes but the economies all over the world,” explains Joshua. “From my perspective, I had many dreams for this year but the pandemic caused them to be narrowed down. Nevertheless, they say when the storm passes and the sun rises again they will be light. It was difficult during lockdown. I was missing my training partners but in the other side I got to spend a lot of time with my family, which was really beautiful.”
With additional reporting and resources from NN Running Team.