Paris, France | THE INDEPENDENT | The world athletics governing body IAAF has ratified four records, including that of Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, that were set before the COVID-19 pandemic brought activity to a halt.
Others ratified are that of Armand Duplantis, world pole vault record of 6.17m, Yulimar Rojas’s world indoor triple jump record of 15.43m and the US men’s 4x100m relay quartet.
On February 16, 2020 in Monaco, Cheptegei set an opening kilometre timed at 2:31, just the blistering pace that he needed to shatter the 5km world record- that remained unofficial until this ratification. IAAF makes sure the right distance, drug tests, wind speeds and other criteria are met, before confirming a record.
How Cheptegei did it
In Monaco that Sunday, 23-year-old Cheptegei followed the opening lap with times of 2:35, 2:36, and 2:35—for the next three kilometers, before finishing with a final split of 2:32.
When it was all done, he had shaved 27 seconds off the previous best set by Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto —13min 18sec in January in Valencia. The Uganda lowered the 5km world record with a time of 12 minutes 51 seconds and revealed he had set out to “really go for” breaking the sub 13 minutes barrier.
“Wow, this is really great,” Chepetegei told World Athletics. “I had sub-13 minutes on my mind today, so when my legs felt good during the race I decided to really go for it.”
“To take this many seconds off the record makes me very happy and is a great first test for me in an important season,” he said, with the Tokyo Olympics in mind.
The COVID-19 outbreak has unfortunately blown away his Olympics dream this year, with the Tokyo Games postponed to next year.
Cheptegei last year also broke the 15km road record and now becomes the first Ugandan to hold three world records, moving a step ahead of the legend John Akii Bua, world record holder in the 400m Hurdles in 1972.
Cheptegei’s 12:51 is the fastest over the distance on the roads and the track in the last year.