World University Cross Country Championships
By Norman Katende
Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei denied the Kenyans a gold medal in the World University men’s 10.5km cross country race, but could not end their dominance.
Despite hanging on to lift the men’s individual gold medal after clocking 31 minutes 6.71 seconds, Cheptegei’s teammates could not stop Kenya’s onslaught with Daniel Muindi, Mark Lakwanamoi, Calvin Chemoiywo and Joseph Kariuki taking the next four places, to not only win silver and bronze individuals medals but also take the team gold medal.
Cheptegei went toe-to-toe with Kenya's Muindi for most of the race. PHOTO/Michael Nsubuga
Cheptegei crossed the finish line in 31:06.71 to claim gold for Uganda. PHOTO/Michael Nsubuga
It was a tough and exciting race which started with the Ugandan and Kenyan runners dominating the proceedings in the high temperatures.
However, with the fourth of the seven 1.5km lap race, it was a battle between Cheptegei and Muindi, who exchanged the lead but as they went towards the bell, Cheptegei started breaking away and he never looked back as he built the gap to run to victory.
“It was a tough course and the course was good as it had some hills that gave us a good challenge unlike the Kololo course which was more flat,” said Cheptegei after the race.
Cheptegei was mobbed by excited fans after his feat. PHOTO/Michael Nsubuga
L-R: Mark Lokwanamoi (KEN) Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) and Daniel Muindi (KEN) pose with their respective medals on the podium. Photo by Michael Nsubuga
“I wanted to run with my friends but they could not manage the pressure and when they fell back, I decided to move on,” he added.
Cheptegei, who was part of the national junior team to the FRICA Cross Country championships is targeting winning a medal at the World Junior Athletics Championships due in Oregon in July.
“I am fighting to hit the qualifying mark and if I am lucky and I am included on the team, then I will be focussing on winning a medal,” he said.
1 Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) 31:06.71
2 Daniel Muindi (KEN) 31:12.79
3 Mark Lokwanamoi (KEN) 32:33.28
4 Calvin Chemoiywo (KEN) 32:39.92
5 Joseph Kariuki (KEN) 32:51.36
6 Shota Baba (JPN) 32:55.88
7 Tristan Woodfine (CAN) 32:59.25
8 Martin Chemtengin (UGA) 33:00.09
9 Julius Ochieng (UGA) 33:12.93
10 Alex Baldaccini (ITA) 33:16.55
1 Kenya 14
2 Uganda 29
3 Japan 47
4 South Africa 74
5 Italy 90
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Cheptegei wins cross country gold