Ugandan long distance runner Joshua Cheptegei will miss competing against athletics nemesis Mo Farah after the four-time champion failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Farah, 38, came close to beating the 10,000m selection time of 27:28.00 but fell short by 19 seconds (27:47.04) at the British Championships in Manchester.
“I don’t know what to think or what’s next. If I can’t compete with the best why bother?” Farah, who won 5,000m and 10,000m gold in 2012 and 2016 told BBC Sport.
“There’s no excuse in terms of conditions – it is what it is. I genuinely thought I’d come out here, get the time and then go back to the training camp.
“I’ve had an amazing career. Thinking about it tonight it’s a bit shocking and I don’t really know what to say.
“I’m lucky enough to have so many medals. I’m one of these athletes who, if you can’t compete with the best, why bother?”
Cheptegei, Mo Farah rivalry
Cheptegei and Mo Farah have come a long way as brutal rivals. The latter noticed the former’s capabilities when they met at the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
Little-known 20-year-old (then) Cheptegei gave his all in the 10,000m race at the Olympic Stadium in London only to finish first runner up just behind Mo Farah in 26:49:94.
And despite Farah looking completely invincible, he noticed the Ugandan’s prowess and stood warned of his talent. In an interview with the Guardian, Farah thought; “Cheptegei is strong.”
He added; “He’s the one coming through.” Indeed Cheptegei went on to win 5,000m and 10,000m Gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.
To date, the Kapchorwa-based athlete has become a force to reckon with – breaking both the 5,000m and 10,000m world records previously owned by Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele.
Without doubt, Cheptegei was relishing another challenge with Mo Farah to perhaps prove a point and his desires were laid bare ahead of last year’s World Half Championships.
Ahead of the race in which he finished fourth in 59:21 – Kiplimo winning in a championship record time of 58:49, Cheptegei expressed his surprise at Mo Farah’s decision not to race at the weekend.
“I thought we would have a more exciting field,” he said. “Like, of course, we have the Kenyans, we have the Ethiopians, but still I was surprised — and I’m still surprised — why Mo Farah is not part of the field…It’s quite really ridiculous that he’s not in the field.”
On Friday 30 July, world record holder Joshua Cheptegei and Ugandan compatriot Jacob Kiplimo will headline the 10,000m event in the absence of Farah.