🔴 FRIDAY ATHLETICS 🇺🇬
➡ 3000m M Steeplechase Round 1 – Chemutai 3.30am
➡ 800m W Round 1 – Nanyondo, Halimah Nakaayi 4.25 am
➡ 5000m W Round 1 – Chesang, Chelegant, Chebet 1pm
➡ 🏆 10,000m FINAL – Kiplimo, Kisa, Cheptegei 2.30pm
Tokyo, Japan | THE INDEPENDENT | The highlight on day one of track and field at Tokyo Olympic games will be the final of the 10,000m set for 2.30pm today.
Never before have all the eyes been on Uganda before an Olympic athletics final – not even in Munich 1972 or London 2012 when the country last won gold medals.
When John Akii-Bua qualified for the final in 1972, he was seen as just one of the competitors with all focus then on Olympic champion David Hemery of Great Britain.
Not only did Akii go on to 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 world 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.
In London 2012, Stephen Kiprotich was also an outsider going into the last event of the Olympics, the marathon.
After toying with favourites from Kenya and Ethiopia, Kiprotich raced to the front with six kms remaining to win the men’s Olympic marathon in two hours eight minutes 11 seconds.
Twice world champion Abel Kirui came second, with then London marathon champion Wilson Kipsang third.
Cheptegei and Kiplimo in 2021
Tokyo 2020 sets a new chapter for Ugandan athletics, with three stars going into an Olympics final as world champions – Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo and Halimah Nakaayi.
When the 10,000m 25-lap final race is over just before 3pm today, it will be a surprise if world record holder and world champion Cheptegei, and World half marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo, do not have two of the three medals on offer.
In the past year alone, Cheptegei 24, broke the 5000m world record in Monaco (12:35.36), then shattered the 10,000m record (26:11.00). He had earlier broken world records in the 5km and 10km road races.
If Cheptegei falters, like he has done twice in the past year in the World Half Marathon, and in a Diamond League 5000m race in June this year, 20-year-old Kiplimo has shown he has what is required to take on the mantle.
He qualified in May by clocking a world-leading 26:33.93 in Ostrava, the second-fastest time over the distance since 2008. The time places him seventh on the world all-time list in the 10,000m.
Kiplimo last year also won the half marathon, another race at which all eyes were on Cheptegei, who showed fatigue from breaking several world record earlier.
As usual, their greatest challenge will come from traditional favmourites from Ethiopia and Kenya. Barega and Yomif Kejelcha, the world silver medallists over 5000m and 10,000m respectively from Ethiopia will be two to watch, as is Kenya’s world bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto.
VIDEO: Akii Bua
Eyes on the prize
“It would be really amazing to win the double, but if I win gold in the 10,000m I would still be grateful. It is demanding a lot, in terms of racing and mindset but I want to give myself a try to win both gold medals,” Cheptegei told BBC World Service Sport.
” I think it will be historic If I can make it because we have had only two Olympic gold medals before from Akii-Bua in 1972, and Stephen Kiprotich 40 years later,” said Cheptegei when asked if he can win the rare 5k and 10k double at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I am looking forward to taking on this great challenge, I will give myself a go at it.” He would become just the eighth man to successfully complete the 5,000m-10,000m double at an Olympic Games .
UGANDA history at the Olympics
MEDALS BY GAMES
|1968 Mexico City||0||1||1||2|
|1984 Los Angeles||0||0||0||0|
|2016 Rio de Janeiro||0||0||0||0|
|Totals (15 games)||2||3||2||7|