🔴 SUNDAY 🇺🇬
✳ 5,000m final 4.05am | Joshua Cheptegei & Oscar Chelimo
Eugene, USA | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | Ugandan ace Joshua Cheptegei will tonight have to be at his best to brush off a host of contenders vying for the last long distance medal of the Oregon World Athletics Championships.
The 5,000m at 4.00am is set to be a close contest, with Chepegei going for double gold, while two others who missed out on gold in earlier 1,500m and 10,000m finals, look at this race as a life saver.
Cheptegei will have do it without ace running mate Jacob Kiplimo, who has been a key factor in his World Championship glory this time round, and at the Olympics last year.
Kiplimo helped change the pace to Cheptegei’s advantage, when the 10,000m field seemed to slow it down in Eugene, and in Tokyo, did a lot of pace setting as the Ugandans secured glory in Tokyo.
There will be a three pronged attack on Cheptegei led by Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who faltered in his favourite 1,500m, where he won silver.
Also seeking to make up will be Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega, beaten out of the medals table by Cheptegei and Kiprop in the 10,000m final.
The Kenyans Jacob Krop and Nicholas Kipkorir will pose more trouble for the Ugandan ace, as they will be in contention for all the medals.
Without Kiplimo, Cheptegei will do most of the hard work with the assistance of youngster Oscar Chelimo in what will be his first race the world championships at this distance.
Before taking part in the semi-final heats earlier on Friday, Cheptegei, who has held the world record at 12:35.36 since 2020 had only raced once outdoors on the track in 2022, winning the promotional 5,000m at the Wanda Diamond League Meeting in Eugene on 27 May in 12:57.99.
While all eyes will be glued on Cheptegei later tomorrow morning, young star Oscar Chelimo presents another alternative for Ugandans courtesy of the master-class performance he produced to win a tight semi-final heat ahead of fellow countryman and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei.
In the semi-final, Chelimo crossed the finishing line in 13 minutes, 24 seconds, and 24 microseconds beating competition from USA’s Grant Fisher who came second in the race, and 2019 World Championship silver medalist Selemon Barega while Cheptegei came fourth.
Chelimo’s breakthrough was in 2018 when he won 3,000m bronze at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, however during the last edition of the world championships in Doha 2019, Chelimo did not progress to the finals 5000m after finishing 14th in heat one of the race.
During the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Chelimo finished 16 in a race that was won by Joshua Cheptegei, but previously he had finished 4th in heat one of the semifinal to qualify for the final.
As they head to the 5,000m world championships final, the duo will have to work hand in hand to beat a 15-men strong field that will have a trio of Ethiopians including two times world champion Edris Muktar, 019 silver medalist Selemon Barega and counterpart and Yomif Kejelcha.
Another tough challenge is expected to come from Kenya’s Jacob Krop who won heat two of the semi-final in more good time (13:13.30) than Chelimo posted (13:24.24) while winning the first heat of the semi-final.
“For us normally we go in a race and we keep on encouraging each other, and sharing the podium for us is really spectacular for us, we did it last year and we have done the same thing,” Cheptegei commented on his teamwork with Jacob Kiplimo after winning the 10,000m race.
Although Cheptegei has shared the podium with Jacob Kiplimo both in the Olympic games and the world championship, he will now have to work with youngster Chelimo to replicate the same