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Cheptegei emulates John Akii-Bua with world best time

Cheptegei set a 15km road run world record. PHOTO @NNRunningTeam

Cheptegei pockets Ug sh213 million for world record

Kampala, Uganda | LOUIS JADWONG | Joshua Cheptegei became only the second Ugandan athlete after legend John Akii-Bua to set a world best time, with his stunning run Sunday at the 15km NN Zevenheuvelenloop (Seven Hills Race) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The 22-year-old Ugandan World Championships 10,000m silver medalist continued his rise in long distance athletics by running the world’s fastest 15k in 41.05 minutes, taking 8 seconds off the previous mark set in 2010.

It is his fourth win in the event, and this time pocketed a bonus 50,000 Euros (Sh213 million) prize for the record. The Nijmegen race is a favourite for Cheptegei, who as a nineteen, twenty and 21-year-old, won the 32nd, 33rd and 34 editions before in 42.39, 42.12 and 41.13.

The Seven Hills Race Zevenheuvelenloop is considered the fastest course in the world, and the best time held before Sunday was by Leonard Komon of Kenya who ran a time of 41:13 in 2010.

In the foot-steps of Akii Bua

Cheptegei’s feat Sunday puts him in the league of world beaters, first achieved by Uganda’s most famous athlete, hurdler John Akii-Bua in 1972. Interestingly, like Akii-Bua, Cheptegei runs for Police.

Akii-Bua’s feat will live in memory. Not only did he brake the world record, he also became the first ever to run under 48 seconds in what is considered a highly technical discipline, the 400m hurdles.

He clocked 47.82 in that Munich Olympics final in Germany to take a phenomenal 0.3 seconds off the record set by the then greatest hurdler David Hemery four years earlier. More remarkable, was he run that final from the inside lane – considered the least favorite position in the one lap race.

After finishing fourth in the 1970 Commonwealth Games and running the fastest time of 1971, he was still not a big favourite for that 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, having limited competitive experience.

He missed the 1976 Olympics and a showdown with United States rival Edwin Moses because of the boycott by Uganda and other African nations. Edwin Moses went on to set a new world record in 1976 and to reign until Kevin Young became the first man to run under 47 seconds in 1992.

Akii Bua died an unhappy man in 1997, a lesson for many of today’s Ugandan athletes who have now invested heavily in their future, and life after sports.

Akii-Bua was one of the geniuses among athletes, according to his British coach Malcom Arnold

How Cheptegei won the NN Seven Hills Race 

Cheptegei took the lead in the beginning of the race and he saw his pacers drop off early so he had to run the second part of the race alone. Cheptegei managed to hold his pace and continued to race towards the finish line. After having won:

“After 10km I was above the schedule of the world record so I decided to accelerate at 12km. The last kilometer was hard but I really enjoyed. I am very proud of my achievement and want to thank the organization and my team,”Cheptegei said shortly after crossing the finish line.

Cheptegei is a member of the NN Running team, that has world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Uganda’s only other Olympic Gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich, in their ranks.

According to an NN statement after the race, they said they started tracking Cheptegei when he became World Junior Champion in Eugene, Oregon in 2014 ( gold in 10,000m, 4th in the 5,000m).

In 2015, Joshua won the 10,000m at the African Championships, and was 9th in Beijing World Champs 10,000m. In 2016, Joshua was 6th in the 10,000m and 8th in the 5,000m in Rio Olympics.

In 2017, the young Ugandan athlete took silver battling Mo Farah in the London 10,000m, in what many believe was the finest 10,000m race in decades. Joshua started 2018 with brilliant wins over 10,000m and 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games.

On the roads this season,  Cheptegai ran 45:15 for 10 miles in Amsterdam Dam to Damloop on 23 September. He followed that up with 27:16 on October 23 at the Durban 10k in South Africa. His WR today is a fitting end to his 2018 season.

On the women’s side in the Netherlands success, it was double success for Uganda as Stella Chesang, the Commonwealth Champion on the 10,000m won the race in a fast time of 47:19.

Selected word records

Event Perf. Athlete(s) Nat. Date Meeting Location
100 m 9.58 Usain Bolt  JAM 16 Aug 2009 World Championships Berlin
200 m 19.19 Usain Bolt  JAM 20 Aug 2009 World Championships Berlin
400 m 43.03 Wayde van Niekerk  RSA 14 Aug 2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro
800 m 1:40.91 David Rudisha  KEN 9 Aug 2012 Olympic Games London
1000 m 2:11.96 Noah Ngeny  KEN 5 Sep 1999 Rieti Meeting Rieti
1500 m 3:26.00 Hicham El Guerrouj  MAR 14 Jul 1998 Golden Gala Rome
Mile 3:43.13 Hicham El Guerrouj  MAR 7 Jul 1999 Golden Gala Rome
2000 m 4:44.79 Hicham El Guerrouj  MAR 7 Sep 1999 ISTAF Berlin
3000 m 7:20.67 Daniel Komen  KEN 1 Sep 1996 Rieti Meeting Rieti
5000 m 12:37.35 Kenenisa Bekele  ETH 31 May 2004 Fanny Blankers-Koen Games Hengelo
10,000 m (track) 26:17.53 Kenenisa Bekele  ETH 26 Aug 2005 Memorial Van Damme Brussels
10 km (road) 26:44 Leonard Patrick Komon  KEN 26 Sep 2010 Singelloop Utrecht
15 km (road) 41:05 Joshua Cheptegei  UGA 18 Nov 2018 Zevenheuvelenloop Nijmegen
20,000 m (track) 56:25.98 Haile Gebrselassie  ETH 27 Jun 2007 Golden Spike Ostrava Ostrava
20 km (road) 55:21 Zersenay Tadese  ERI 21 Mar 2010 Lisbon Half Marathon Lisbon
Half marathon 58:23 Zersenay Tadese  ERI 21 Mar 2010 Lisbon Half Marathon Lisbon
58:18 Abraham Kiptum  KEN 28 Oct 2018 Valencia Half Marathon Valencia

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