Joshua Cheptegei’s world 5000m record of 12:35.36 set at the Wanda Diamond League in Monaco on 14 August has been ratified.
The Ugandan, now 24, took two seconds off Kenenisa Bekele’s mark of 12:37.35, set 16 years earlier in Hengelo. Amazingly, it was Cheptegei’s first race since setting a world 5km record on the roads on 16 February, also in Monaco.
Paced through the early stages by Roy Hoornweg (2:31.87 at 1000m) and Matthew Ramsden (5:03.77 at 2000m), Cheptegei, the reigning world cross country and 10,000m champion, took up the running at half way and continued the metronomic pace, churning out 61-second laps. He passed through 3000m in 7:35.14 and then upped the pace slightly with a 2:30 fourth kilometre.
Having left the rest of the field way behind, he maintained his tempo and eked out another 2:30 split for the final kilometre, bringing him to the finish line in 12:35.36 after a 59.64 final lap.
With his season cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, Cheptegei made no secret of his ambitions to take down’s Bekele’s record which had stood since the rising star was seven years old, and targeted precisely that in Monaco.
After the race Cheptegei revealed: “It took a lot of mind setting to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying at home but you have to stay motivated. I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach. I’m also usually based in Europe, but being based in Uganda with my family was actually great.
“If you believe in something, anything is possible,” he continued. “Breaking a record was something really difficult, but when you know the right way, it’s not difficult anymore. So, the next challenge is to go chase one or two more world records. I would be the happiest person in the world.”
On 7 October in Valencia, in his third race of the year, Cheptegei shattered the world record in the 10,000m, clocking 26:11.00, a performance which is now awaiting ratification.