Uganda banks on duo for World Half-Marathon glory

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The coronavirus pandemic may have disrupted the global sports calendar but in athletics, Ugandan duo of Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo has raised the bar high.
The pair is in the minds of long-distance running analysts following their recent exploits in Europe.
Cheptegei broke a third straight world record by posting 12 minutes and 35.36 seconds over the 5000m at the Monaco Diamond League on August 14.
Yet almost 40 days later, teenager Kiplimo returned to track to win the 5000m race at the Ostrava Golden Spike in Czech Republic with the second fastest time by a Ugandan - 12:48.63.
At only 19, Kiplimo again stunned the field to win the 3000m race at the Rome Diamond League in Italy with the fastest time ever by a teen - 7:26.64.
By virtue of this, Uganda Athletics Federation believes the pair can do something extraordinary when they combine to represent at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland on October 17.
This event was meant to be held on March 29 but the pandemic had it almost called off. Both Cheptegei and Kiplimo will compete over the 21km distance for the first time.
But with 12 championship medals between, there is optimism that they can earn Uganda her first medal at this biennial event.
No Ugandan has entered the medal bracket at this event though Wilson Busienei came fourth at the 2006 edition in Debrecen, Hungary.
But, Cheptegei may not even have enough time to prepare for Gdynia because he will first attempt to break the 10000m world record in Valencia, Spain on October 7.
“From 10000m to half-marathon is much more difficult,” Cheptegei’s coach Addy Ruiter said. “That’s the reason that we are saying that Joshua now is not prepared like he was in March when they postponed the half-marathon in Poland.”
However, Uganda scooped gold and silver respectively from Cheptegei and Kiplimo on the last time they ran together - the men’s senior 10km race at the World Cross-country in Aarhus, Denmark last year.
2020 Edition: 24th
Initial Date: March 29
New Date: October 17
Host City: Gdynia, Poland
Race length: 21.0975 km
Best Ugandan Finisher: Wilson Busienei (4th at Debrecen 2006)
MEN: Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Moses Kibet, Stephen Kissa, Abel Chebet
WOMEN: Juliet Chekwel, Doreen Chesang, Doreen Chemutai, Rachael Zena Chebet
COACH: Benjamin Njia

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This writer is a global broadcaster and as well scribe with Daily Monitor Newspaper and sports presenter with Radio One FM 90 in Kampala. Follow him on Twitter: @AllanDarren and his Facebook Page: Darren Allan Kyeyune

Published: 09/28/2020