Unfortunately, there was no merry-making and the celebratory motorcades as the current 5000m World record holder, Joshua Cheptegei returned to his motherland, Uganda because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Cheptegei arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi in Kenya during the wee hours of Sunday.
Aboard Turkish Airlines flight, Cheptegei arrived at 3am on Sunday 16th August 2020, a day after breaking a 16 year-old record (previously held by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele) at the Wanda Diamond League in Monaco.
Cheptegei clocked 12:35:36 at the Stade Louis II in the Fontvieille district of Monaco, smashing the standing 12:37.35 in a bravura solo performance.
He was accompanied by fellow athletes Stephen Kissa (pace maker in the same race), Halima Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo who also participated in the Diamond League.
This quartet was received by the Uganda High Commission officials Jeremiah Guma (Foreign Service Officer) and Evelyn Namatende (Administrative Attaché) who were filled with immense joy on receiving the athletes.
Cheptegei together with the other athletes expressed delight at being received by the Ugandan officials on their arrival stating that despite the COVID 19 pandemic, they were still accorded a befitting welcome from the Uganda High Commission Officials.
Upon arrival, Cheptegei, conveyed a sincere message of gratitude to the officials of the Uganda High Commission for the warm reception that was accorded to him and the entire Ugandan Team and emphasized;
“This is a true fulfillment and true proof that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still alive and that the Government is still at work even beyond Uganda’s borders,” Cheptegei noted.
The Athletes immediately departed the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 3:45am enroute to Uganda.
They were escorted to the Malaba Border by the Uganda High Commission officials and the Kenyan Diplomatic Police Escorts.
The team arrived at the Malaba border at around 11:00am where they will be handed over to the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports Officials.
“I think Monaco is a special place and it’s one of these places where I could break the world record. 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.” he noted moments after setting a new world record.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli Kipkorir was the only other man who broke 13 minutes, as he finished a distant second in a lifetime best of 12:51.78.
Another Kenyan, Jacob Krop (13:11.32) was third in the competitive race with a seasonal best timing thus far.
Dutch man Mike Foppen (13:13.06) set a new national and personal best timings.
Spaniard Ouassim Oumaiz (13:13.14) came fifth with a personal best timing.
Australia’s Stewart McSweyn (13:13.22) came with the seasonal best.
Jimmy Gressier (France)- 13:15.77 and Mauritius’ Per Svela (13:23.97) also had personal best timings.
The duo of Hassan Suldan (Sweden) and Julien Wanders (Switzerland) completed the top ten positions with seasonal best timings of 13:31.62 and 13:49.85 respectively.
Cheptegei collected a whooping 50,000 USD for breaking world record and 20,000 USD for winning.
Top 10 positions:
1. Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) – 12:35.36 *World Record
2. Nicholas Kimeli Kipkorir (Kenya) – 12:51.78 *Personal Best
3. Jacob Krop (Kenya) – 13:11.32 *Seasonal Best
4. Mike Foppen (Netherlands) -13:13.06 *National Record, Personal Best
5. Ouassim Oumaiz (Spain) – 13:13.14 *Personal Best
6. Stewart McSweyn (Australia) – 13:13.22 * Seasonal Best
7. Jimmy Gressier (France)- 13:15.77 *Personal Best
8. Per Svela (Mauritius) – 13:23.97 *Personal Best
9. Hassan Suldan (Sweden) – 13:31.62 *Seasonal Best
10. Julien Wanders (Switzerland) – 13:49.85 *Seasonal Best
Did not finish:
Yemaneberhan Crippa (Italy)
Roy Hoornweg (Netherlands) *Pace Setter
Stephen Kissa (Uganda)*Pace Setter
Henrik Ingebrigtsen (Norway)
Matthew Ramsden (Australia) *Pace Setter