Zurich, Switzerland | Ugandan long distance ace Joshua Cheptegei stepped up his preparations for next month’s World Athletics Championships with a great win in the final 5,000m race of the Diamond League in Zurich Thursday.
Cheptegei made it look easy, speeding off from the start to beat the tape in a new personal best of 12.57.41 to win a Diamond Trophy at the $50,000 (Sh184 million) prize that goes along with it. Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet was second in 12:58.15, with favorite Yomif Kajelcha from Ethiopia only managing 6th in 13:01.38
For the first time in the 10-year history of the Diamond League (DL), the finals are taking place before the World Championships, which means that all 16 DL events are serving as de facto World Championship previews before the real thing goes down in Doha.
Uganda World Cross Country king and double Commonwealth Champion Cheptegei, 22, said as much, saying his victory was the perfect warm-up for Doha World Championships.
“If I go fast, I go fast. On the last lap I thought that I can win the race. I was expecting to win. I believe in myself and this victory gives me even more confidence” Cheptegei said.
Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to contend with the finishing speed of the Ethiopian contingent, which included last year’s champion Selemon Barega, Cheptegei sped off from the start and hung on to win in 12.57.41.
“In Doha I will not compete in the 5k but the 10k. Winning the gold medal there would be special because I have never won a track gold at World Championships. I planned this race and I expected to win. I will train in the mountains of Uganda until Doha and the good thing is that my coach will be there, too.”
Today’s race was a great send-off of the 5000m race in the Diamond league as the IAAF is scrapping the 12 lap race from its list of Diamond League events in 2020.
The other Ugandan in action, Winnie Nanyondo managed 5th in the 1500 in 4:03.08.
The 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, the seventeenth edition of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, are scheduled to be held between 27 September and 6 October 2019 in Doha,
At the 2017 World Championships in London Olympic Stadium Mo Farah won the 10,000m race, ahead of Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda.