© Copyright – 2021 – Athletics Illustrated

For Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei winning the gold medal put a feather in the cap of an athlete who entered the world stage like the ear-splitting bang of a starter’s pistol.

In 2020, he took down four world records and one world best time from 5000m to the 15km road race. In jaw-dropping fashion, he bettered Ethiopian, Kenenisa Bekele’s 5000m and 10,000m world records that until then seemed unapproachable for 16 years. He ran 12:35.36 at the Monaco Diamond League meet, then 26:11.00 in the Valencia DL meet. The running world took notice. He also bettered the world 5km road record in Monaco with a 12:51 performance, just for good measure.

For the 24-year-old a little lingering doubt crept in about his ability to dominate at the same level during the Olympic Games when he was beaten by Norweigan Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Canadians Mo Ahmed and Justyn Knight during a Diamond League meet.

Ingebrigtsen who would go on to take gold in the 1500m in 3:28.32, breaking the 21-year-old European record in the 5,000 metres event at the Florence Diamond League meet. He finished in the time of 12:48.45.

Finishing in second place was Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet in the time of 12:49.02. He owns a personal best of 12:45.82 from 2018. Third was Canadian record holder Ahmed who clocked a 12:50.12. Spanish runner Katir Mohamed was nearly half a second back of Ahmed at 12:50.79 and running sub-13 for the first time. Running a new personal best was Canadian Knight with a 12:51.93 for fifth place. Finishing sixth was Cheptegei.

But The Ugandan brought his A-Game to Tokyo and finished the 12.5-lap race in the heat with a flourish.

His finish time was 12:51.15, while Ahmed, absolutely dead set on not finishing fourth, laid it all on the line to nearly take gold at 12:58.61. American, Paul Chelimo, would have made good with a football or rugby ball in his hands as he dove over the finish line to capture bronze in the time of 12:59.05.

Knight acquitted himself well finishing seventh in the time of 13:04.38. Pretty good for a pair of Southern Ontario boys. And pretty great for the Ugandan, who has led the coming-out party for the East African nation of late.


1UGACHEPTEGEI Joshua12:58.15
2CANAHMED Mohammed12:58.61
3USACHELIMO Paul12:59.05
4KENKIMELI Nicholas Kipkorir12:59.17
5UGAKIPLIMO Jacob13:02.40
6BRNBALEW Birhanu13:03.20
7CANKNIGHT Justyn13:04.38
8ESPKATIR Mohamed13:06.60
9USAFISHER Grant13:08.40
10ETHMENGESHA Milkesa13:08.50
11GBRBUTCHART Andrew13:09.97
12GUAGRIJALVA Luis13:10.09
13FRAGRESSIER Jimmy13:11.33
14USAKINCAID William13:17.20
15BRNFIKADU Dawit13:20.24
16UGACHELIMO Oscar13:44.45

Heat One

1KENKIMELI Nicholas Kipkorir13:38.87Q
2CANAHMED Mohammed13:38.96Q
3USAKINCAID William13:39.04Q
4UGACHELIMO Oscar13:39.07Q
5BRNBALEW Birhanu13:39.42Q
6GBRSCOTT Marc13:39.61
7FRAHAY Hugo13:39.95
8AUSMcNEILL David13:39.97
9ETHWALE Getnet13:41.13
10KENEBENYO Daniel Simiu13:41.64
11SUIRAESS Jonas13:43.52
12MARBOUQANTAR Soufiyan13:43.97
13CANBRUCHET Luc13:44.08
14ETHMELAK Nibret13:45.81
15ITACRIPPA Yemaneberhan13:47.12
16BELHENDRIX Robin13:58.37
17JPNBANDO Yuta14:05.80
18KGZKENESHBEKOV Nursultan14:07.79
19MTNABIDINE Abidine14:54.80

Heat Two

1ESPKATIR Mohamed13:30.10Q
2USACHELIMO Paul13:30.15Q
3CANKNIGHT Justyn13:30.22Q
4UGAKIPLIMO Jacob13:30.40Q
5UGACHEPTEGEI Joshua13:30.61Q
6ETHMENGESHA Milkesa13:31.13q
7GBRBUTCHART Andrew13:31.23q
8USAFISHER Grant13:31.80q
9FRAGRESSIER Jimmy13:33.47q
10GUAGRIJALVA Luis13:34.11q
11AUSMcDONALD Morgan13:37.36
12NORNORDAS Narve Gilje13:37.36
13EOREISA MOHAMMED Jamal Abdelmaji13:42.98
14BRNFIKADU Dawit13:44.03qR
15SAMASHELE Lesiba13:48.25
16GERMOHUMED Mohamed13:50.46
17BELKIMELI Isaac13:57.36
18JPNMATSUEDA Hiroki14:15.54