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Coach attributes Cheptegei's Cross Country success to intense training techniques

By Jacky Achan

Added 1st April 2019 06:53 PM

Joshua Cheptegei on Saturday bagged Gold for Uganda, the very first in the men’s senior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship in Denmark.

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Cheptegei celebrates after winning. AFP gold at the World Cross Country in Denmark

Joshua Cheptegei on Saturday bagged Gold for Uganda, the very first in the men’s senior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship in Denmark.

Knowing that it was going to be a tough course in Aarhus, Denmark, Uganda’s team to the IAAF World Cross Country Championship, had to step up their training in the mountainous Kapchorwa region.
The effort paid off, according to athletics Coach Benjamin Njia.
Joshua Cheptegei on Saturday bagged Gold for Uganda, the very first in the men’s senior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship in Denmark.
The victory was to the delight of many Ugandans and fans who in 2017 horrifically watched Cheptegei crumble on the final stretch to a win in Kampala, and lose out to Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor.
But that is in the past now as Cheptegei over the weekend became the first Ugandan to win the senior men's IAAF World Cross Country Championship in 31:40.
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo at 18 years, was also aiming to become the youngest athlete to win the senior men’s race but came second in 31:44 after leading most part of the race.
Defending champion Kenya's Geoffrey Kamworor could only manage a third position in 31:55 following a convincing win by the Ugandan duo.
Having taken the Gold and Silver, Chetegei and Kiplimo equally led the Ugandan men to first-ever team gold. Kenya took the team silver medal and Ethiopia took bronze.
So what went right this time?
“We prepared well having known that the course was up and down the hill,” Njia, who was one of the three coaches in Denmark says.
The training was in the mountainous Kapchorwa region but in Aarhus “it was tough for the athletes, the course was made like one is going on the rooftop it was steep, going downhill was another challenge for the athletes,” he said.
Nonetheless, Chetegei and Kiplimo triumphed taking first and second position and helped the men’s senior team bag Gold in Denmark, equally another first for Uganda.
To score the team, in all races, teams may enter a maximum of eight athletes, but no more than six are allowed to start in each race with four to score.
The team results are decided by the aggregate of places recorded by the scoring athletes of each team. The team with the lowest aggregate of points is judged the winner.
The team that fails to finish with a complete scoring team, has the runners finishing counted as individuals in the race result and are eligible for the individual prize money senior races only.
For Uganda’s men’s senior team Thomas Ayeko finished fourth in 32:25 and Joel Ayeko finished tenth in 32:32 to complete Uganda’s scoring team of four to bag Gold.
Others in the race included Albert Chemutai who finished twelfth in 32:46 and Maxwell Rotich who finished twenty seventh in 33:28.
Women’s senior team
The women’s senior team returned home with a team bronze medal though there was no individual medal in this category for Uganda.
Kenya’s Hellen Obiri took the individual Gold in 36:14 and Ethiopia’s Dera Dida took Silver in 36:16 and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia took bronze in 36:24.
Uganda’s Rachael Zena Chebet came fourth in 36:47 and Peruth Chemutai came fifth in 36:49.
Others in the race were Juliet Chekwel who was thirteenth in 37:35, Esther Chebet finished in the fourteenth position in 37.26.
An injured Stella Chesang finished in the twenty-first position in 38:14 and Doreen Chesang completed the race in the sixty-third position in 40:26.
The Ugandan team nonetheless bagged the team bronze, Kenya took silver and Ethiopia Gold.
Men’s Junior team (U20)
In the junior men’s race, Oscar Chelimo put up a good run finishing third in 23:55 and getting the bronze medal.
Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha took Gold in 23:52and his country mate Tadese Worku bagged silver in 23:54.
Nonetheless, Chelimo led the men’s junior team to a silver medal at the IAAF world cross country competition coming. Ethiopia bagged Gold and Kenya took the Bronze.
Uganda’s Hosea Kiplangat who is the national cross country champion finished sixth in 24:08, Samuel Kibet was ninth in 24:29, and Mathew Job Chekwurui was fourteenth in 25:07.
Others in the race included Dan Chebet who was nineteenth in 25:49 and Denis Cherotich who finished in the twenty-second position in 25:55.
Women’s junior team (U20)
It was heartbreaking for Uganda’s junior women’s team that missed out on the third position to Japan, losing by a single point in Denmark.  Ethiopia took Gold and Kenya silver.
In the individual race, Uganda’s Sarah Chelangat had led the pack and stuck with the winners of the race but finished outside the medal bracket in what was the closest of finishes.  
Kenya’s Beatrice took Gold on appeal. She had earlier been given bronze after all winners crossed the line together.
Ethiopia’s Alemitu Tariku who had earlier been given Gold settled for silver and Tsigie Gebreselama also from Ethiopia took the bronze. The winners all crossed the line in 20:50, Chelangat finished fourth in 20:51.
The Uganda team also had Esther Yeko Chekwemoi who finished nineteenth in 22:11, Rebecca Chelangat was twenty fourth in 22:25,  Annet Chesang came twenty-sixth in 22:29 and Leah Chelangat was 56th in 23:33.
Mixed relay team
Uganda’s mixed relay team managed to finish fifth. The Ugandan team of Docus Ajok, Daniel Kiprop, Silvia Chelangat, and Ronald Musagala put up a spirited fight to finish in the fifth position in 27:35 after trailing several teams in the early stage of the race.
Ethiopia took Gold in 25:49, Morocco silver in 26:22 and Kenya bronze in 26:29 in the competition.
Overall Uganda finished third in the competition bringing home two Gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Kenya was second with eight medals (two Gold, three silver, and three bronze medals).
Ethiopia topped the competition with 11 medals (five Gold, three silver, and three bronze medals).
With Uganda smashing the men’s race taking Gold, the junior women coming fourth, the junior taking men second position, senior women coming third, and mixed relay team coming fourth, Uganda can only register more success in the future.
Coach Njia says the focus now is on the All Africa games in August in Morocco and the IAAF World Championship in Doha in September.

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