This is Witness the Wonder, the Preview to the 2023 World Champs in Budapest for Day 24, May 11, 2023.
For the next 21 days, RunBlogRun will be posting a story a day on the buildup to the World Athletics Outdoor Championships, to be held in Budapest, Hungary, from August 19-August 27, 2023.
Let me tell you about Joshua Cheptegai.
In 2015, the young Ugandan totally impressed fans with his fifth place in the 10,000 meters in Beijing.
Joshua Cheptegai doubled in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, taking eighth in the 5,000m and sixth in the 10,000m.
Uganda has a fantastic history in athletics, going back to the 1972 400m hurdle gold medalist John Aki Bua! Joshua Cheptegai and his countrymen are proud of their heritage, and with Stephen Kiprotich, London’s 2012 Olympic gold medalist, they have even more recent heroes.
Joshua Cheptegai defends his Doha title in Eugene, World Athletics Championships.
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July 15-26 2022, photo by Kevin Morris
In 2017, Joshua Cheptegai fought brilliantly and took the World Championships bronze medal.
Joshua Cheptegai excels over 12.5 laps and 25 laps. In the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Joshua took gold in the 5,000m and the 10,000m! Uganda picks up two medals.
Joshua Cheptegai has developed into a championship racer. This is a certain skill set. In typical fashion, the 5,000 meters at a championship level is hell-bent from the first lap, and the 10,000 meters goes out tactically, and then, the pace quickens, in each case, a near sub-four minute last mile, and final 800 meters in the 1:52 range better be in your regimen to medal.
In 2019, Joshua Cheptegai started the year off with a World Cross Country title in Aarhus, Denmark. Not only did Joshua win, but he led the Uganda team to the title!
Joshua Cheptegai, The Prefontaine Classic
Eugene, Oregon, USA, photo by Kevin Morris
The Doha World Champs in October 2019 gave Joshua Cheptegai a chance to take gold at the 10,000 meters!
The pandemic shook up the entire sport. At that time, Joshua Cheptegai ran for the records. On August 14, 2020, Joshua Cheptegai ran 12;35.36, breaking the sixteen-year-old WR of Kenenisa Bekele for the 5,000 meters., his first race of 2020.
On October 7, 2020, Joshua Cheptegai took Kenenisa Bekele’s WR at 10,000m, with 26:11.00.
Now a two-time World record holder, Joshua Cheptegai took that confidence into the 2021 delayed Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, Joshua Cheptegai just lost the 10,000m to Selemon Barega, with Ugandan teammate Jacob Kiplimo who took the bronze. Joshua came back at the 5,000m distance and took gold!
In 2022, Joshua Cheptegai won the 10,000 meters in Eugene at the World Champs and took 9th in the 5,000 meters.
Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda (right) winning the 2022 World Athletics Championships 10,000m gold medal ahead of Stanley Mburu of Kenya (silver medal) and Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda (bronze medal) (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
, used with permission.
Joshua had a lot to say bout his 10,000m gold in Eugene: ” I did not aim to run really fast because of the heat; the sun was very strong. You just have to enjoy the race and see how it is going. Then it was going good. Actually, it was really hot today compared to yesterday’s race when the ladies ran the 10k. The conditions were kind of challenging. But nevertheless, I prepared myself for something special. I knew that if I get into the last fight, I can control it and I could speed it up. I was able to get stronger and keep it faster and faster. It was very emotional for me to come back to the USA, where I started my international career in 2014. Now, I want to continue my dominancy in long-distance running, and I hope I will manage it. This means a lot to me, and I have to thank to all my teammates who helped me and my compatriots who were praying for me.”
In 2023, Joshua Cheptegai followed his teammate, Jacob Kiplimo, who took the gold in Bathhurst, Australia, with Cheptegai taking bronze. The Ugandan team took the bronze as well.
The World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, will have the finest racers in the world. Joshua Cheptegai will be there and ready to race, defending his 10,000m title from Doha.
Jacob Kiplimo (left) and Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda in Times Square three days before the 2023 United Airlines NYC Half (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.
Joshua Cheptegai is one of the true talents of our sport. His desire to excel, his focus, and his faith make him a tough challenge for anyone who wants to medal at the 5,000m or 10,000m distance.
Watch for Joshua Cheptegai to tease us a bit with his races this summer, and Budapest will be an incredible series of distance races, and Joshua Cheptagai will be there!
To read all of our earlier stories in Witness the Wonder, numbers 1-23: