Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei aims at a dream debut in the World Athletics half marathon championship slated for Saturday, 17th October in Gdynia, Poland.
The biannual competition was due to take place on 29 March but was postponed until October due to the coronavirus turmoil.
Chetegei will quite rightly command the spotlight given the year he has had. The Uganda icon has set world records in all competitions three of his races in 2020, starting with his 12:51 clocking for 5km on roads in Monaco in February and followed by his 12:35.36 in the 5000m run and his stunning 26:11.00 performance in the 10,000m world record in Valencia earlier this month.
Cheptegei says that, he still has more fuel in his tank, despite his half marathon inexperience
“It’s been my dream to male a debut at the half marathon. This title will be something very special for me.” A debut and win, that would be amazing.”
“I have been training well for 5000m, the 10000m but now its the half marathon, I know it comes just a few days after the world record but I believe I am a person of high talent and I can say it will be a nice challenge for me.”
“I am hungry for the title, I have shown in cross country, I have shown in the track and also shown when it comes to attacking records, so the only thing now is to win this special title.”
Victory will see Cheptegei become the second man in the modern era to win global titles on track, road and cross country, joining Khalid Skah who excelled in 1994.
Skah is also the last man to win the world half marathon on his debut
He will face stiff competition from compatriot Jacob Kiplimo who also has also been in sensational form this year, clocking a world leading Ugandan record of 7:26.64 for 3000m in Rome and his astonishing a 5000m win of 12:48.63 in Ostrava.
Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie, who recorded a world leading half marathon time of 58:38 in Run Czech half in September is also expected to put up a major challenge.
For starters, Uganda has won just one medal at the world half marathon championships, bronze in the men’s team event in 2004. Wilson Busienei’s fourth place finish in 2006 is the country’s best individual placing.
Meanwhile in the Women’s race, Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudet will be hoping to defend her title from the 2018 championship. He will battle with Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir who came out on top in 2016 and earlier in September this year, she set the women’s only world record of 1:05.34 for the half marathon in Prague.
Uganda will be represented by Juliet Chekwel, Doreen Chemutai, Doreen Chesang and Rachael Zena Chebet in the women’s event.