Uganda’s top distance runner Joshua Cheptegei marked his return to the track with an impressive 4th place finish in a star-studded 5000 Metres Prefontaine Classic race on Saturday.
Cheptegei’s time of 13:02.84 is a season best for him, but the 20-year-old can run faster. He was 2 seconds short of his personal best in the 5000 of 13:00.60 set in Shanghai in May last year.
Saturday’s race in Eugene, an IAAF third leg of the Diamond League, was won by double Olympic Champion Mo Farah in the year’s fastest time over the distance – 13:00.70.
The 34-year-old British distance running king said he had been determined to send a message to his challengers as he builds towards his track farewell at the World Championships in August.
“For me it wasn’t about time. It was just a matter of telling the boys ‘Look, I’m ready’,” Farah said.
“A lot of the boys talk a lot. I just want my running to do the talking and get on with it.
However, Uganda’s Cheptegei might have something to say in August as he showed full recovery from a disastrous ending to his World Cross Country Championships in Kampala in March. In the Kampala event, he set a blistering pace but run out of gas, and was stretchered off after finishing 3oth.
Uganda’s world junior cross country champion Jacob Kiplimo, 16, finished in a commendable 12th, in a new personal best of 13:13.64.
|1||Mo FARAH||Great Britain||13:00.70|
|8||Andrew BUTCHART||Great Britain||13:11.45|
|13||Paul Kipngetich TANUI||Kenya||13:14.09|
|17||William Malel SITONIK||Kenya||13:20.02|
|20||Nicholas Mboroto KOSIMBEI||Kenya||13:22.68|
|23||Caleb Mwangangi NDIKU||Kenya||13:31.45|
|Isiah Kiplangat KOECH||Kenya||DNF|
Price money in the Diamond League events, and final later in the year
|Place||Prize Money (USD)||Place||Prize Money (USD)|
plus rewards for 9th-12th place finishers in distance races and ninth-lane runners in sprints.
Points at qualification meetings:
Eugene IAAF Diamond League
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei gets a chance to put his athletics season back on track when he runs against double Olympic 5,000m – 10,000m Champion Mo Farah and two-time World Cross Country king Geoffrey Kamworor at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Saturday.
Cheptegei, who collapsed spectacularly at the World Cross Country Championships on home ground in March, gets an opportunity to indicate how much he has recovered.
In the 10km cross country race in March, Cheptegei set a blistering pace after two laps, but in the final lap run out of gas, suddenly slowed down, and walked to the finish line in 30th position. He was stretchered off.
“He is very okay,” said national coach Faustine Kiwa, when The Independent asked about his fitness ahead of the Eugene IAAF Diamond League race. “He even danced that night of the cross country final. The doctors said he simply stretched himself, but is fine.”
That men’s World Cross Country Championship 10km race was won by Kenya’s Kamworor, followed by Leonard Barsoton. Cheptegei faces them both in this weekend’s Eugene Diamond League in the US.
The other Ugandan in action Saturday is teenager Jacob Kiplimo. Kiplimo won the men’s junior gold at Kampala’s World Cross Country Championships.
The World’s best
The 5,000m (12.5 laps) race Saturday is a remarkable collection of the world’s best distance runners and will show how much Cheptegei,20 has recovered, on top of providing a preview of the London World Championships final this summer. (see key runners profiles on page 2 or click)
The University of Oregon’s Hayward Field is the training base of Farah but Cheptegei has fond memories of the US state. It was in Eugene, Oregon that he announced his arrival on the world stage at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships by winning the 10,000m gold.
Farah faces a repeat of his Rio Olympics 5,000m final, with both silver medallist Paul Chelimo and bronze medallist Hagos Gebrhiwet, 23, in the field.
Friday’s night’s opening events will see Ethiopia’s Olympic silver medallist Genzebe Dibaba take another crack at the world record in the 5,000m, aiming to beat the existing mark of 14min 11.15sec held by her sister Tirunesh since 2008.
Other highlights on Saturday include the men’s 100m, where Olympic silver medallist Justin Gatlin and Canada’s bronze medallist Andre DeGrasse resume their rivalry.
The women’s 800m meanwhile sees Olympic champion Caster Semenya head a strong line-up which also includes Rio medallists Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya.