Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei has already broken two world records this year but he now has his sights on a third when he attempts to break Kenenisa Bekele’s 10,000 metres track record in Valencia tonight (9:30pm Ugandan time).
“With the look of things now with COVID-19 you cannot win a medal, you cannot race in a championship this year so the best is to try to break the world record,” he said at the pre-meet press conference on Tuesday.
Back in February, Cheptegei smashed the world 5km road record in Monaco.
Then, after a period of lockdown in his native Uganda, he returned to Monaco and, in his first race back, wiped almost two seconds off Bekele’s 16-year-old world record time over the 5,000m as he clocked an astonishing 12min 35.35sec.
“People never believed I could come close to the 5,000 metres world record .Now I have it ,”said cheptegei,who turned 24 last month.
Covid presented an opportunity — I needed to run faster so the next goal is to try and break the 10,000 metres world record.
“There is nothing better than to try these crazy things this year.”
Cheptegei served notice of his class when he took silver at the 2017 world championships in London when he was still just 20.
Last year he went one better, collecting gold in Doha. He had already won the world cross country championship five months earlier.
Now his sights are set on breaking a 10,000 metres record of 26min 17.53sec set by Bekele in Brussels on August 26, 2005.
As things stand, Cheptegei only has the 18th quickest time over the distance with a best in Doha of 26min 48.36secs, over half a minute outside the record.
But his performance in August bodes well and he also has some rapid pacemakers, notably the Kenyan Nicholas Kimeli who was a world finalist over 5,000 metres.