Dubai: World 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei broke the world 5,000m record during the Diamond League meeting held in Monaco on Friday evening with a stunning time of 12:35.36.
The Ugandan took two seconds off Kenenisa Bekele’s mark of 12:37.35, set 16 years ago in Hengelo. It was Cheptegei’s first race since setting a world 5km record on the roads on February 16, also in Monaco.
Paced through the early stages by Roy Hoornweg (2:31.87 at 1,000m) and Matthew Ramsden (5:03.77 at 2,000m), Cheptegei took up the running at halfway and continued a steady pace, churning out 61-second laps while passing through 3,000m in 7:35.14.
He then upped the pace slightly with the fourth kilometre in a time of 2:30 leaving the rest of the field way behind. In the final kilometre, he registered an identical 2:30 split that took the Ugandan athlete home in record time.
Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli, who was just approaching the final straight as Cheptegei crossed the line, finished a distant second in a lifetime best of 12:51.78, while teammate Jacob Krop was third in 13:11.32.
Going back 16 months, the then 22-year-old Ugandan had laid out his strategy for world domination beside the picturesque cross country course in Aarhus, Denmark, where he had just won his first senior world title.
With his first global triumph, Cheptegei had spelt out that his next object was to succeed Mo Farah as the 10,000m title-holder.
“My ambition is to dominate the track for the next five or six years,” Cheptegei had audaciously said then.
And over a period of time, he did just that as he won everything that he participated in – including three consecutive world records in a year.
During 2019 itself, he won the 5,000m at the Diamond League final in Zurich (August 29), the 10,000m at the World Championships in Doha (October 6), set a world 10km record of 26:38 in Valencia, Spain (December 1).
Cheptegei then carried forward his fine form into 2020 while setting a new world 5km record of 12.51 in Monaco on February 16.
Between February and August this year the world changed as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, but Cheptegei did not miss a beat. He spent lockdown with his Dutch coach Addy Ruiter in his hometown of Kapchorwa, which sits at 1,800m altitude in Uganda’s eastern region. And when he wasn’t training, he took on family and community duties especially at his old school.
And late on Friday, the Ugandan athlete once again proved his worth with a third successive world record in Monaco as he took down the great Bekele’s monumental record.
Meanwhile, Filipino athlete Ernest Obiena settled for a bronze medal in the pole vault after clearing 5.70 metres. World record holder Armand Duplantis took the gold with an effort of 6.00 metres, while Belgium’s Ben Broeders claimed silver after clearing 5.70m on his first attempt.