Ugandans: Joshua Chepetegei, Jacob Kiplimo and Oscar Chelimo
Event: Men’s 5000m final
Date: Friday, August 6
Time: 3pm (Ug time)
TV: Sanyuka tv (StarTimes)
Uganda trio of Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo and Oscar Chelimo will be in action on Friday in the Men’s 5000m final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
Cheptegei and Kiplimo will be top favourites for the gold and silver medals in that order.
But the duo suffered an upset last week when they were beaten by Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega in the 10,000m final.
In a star studdied 16-man field, the Ugandan trio will face strong resistance from Spanish sensational talent Mohamed Katir and USA’s 2016 Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo.
Bahrain’s Asian champion Birhanu Balew, Canada’s world bronze medallist Moh Ahmed, world U20 cross-country champion Milkesa Mengesha and Kenya trials winner Nicholas Kimeli are all contenders to the throne.
Will Cheptegei Live To the Billing?
Pressure will be on Cheptegei to deliver this time who has repeatedly expressed his desire for an Olympics title.
He holds the World Record at the distance thanks to his blistering performance last year in Monaco to break the 16-year-old 5,000m world record by almost two seconds (12:35.36).
It will be a dream come true to win an Olympics title in a World breaking time or set a new Olympics record which stands at 12:57.82 set by Kenenisa Bekele in 2008 Beijing games.
Cheptegei’s form and class has never been in doubt but he has left a lot to be desired in his two 5000m races this year – He was sixth (12:54.69) at the Diamond League in Florence and fourth (13:30.40) during the heats on Tuesday.
Can Jacob Kiplimo Walk Out Cheptegei’s Shadow Once More?
Kiplimo has been tipped by some pundits to snatch the gold out of Cheptegei’s shadow.
If this comes to pass, it will not be the first time the youngster has done so.
He beat pre-race favourite Cheptegei who finished fourth at the World Half Marathon Championship in Gydnia, Poland last year.
Then, Kibiwott Kandie (Kenya) finished second in 58:54 while Amdework Walelign (Ethiopia) came third in 59:08.
During Monday’s heats, Kiplimo came just behind Cheptegei to seal a place in the final.
“I feel good, I know it will be a tough race but we are ready to do something,” Kiplimo said as quoted by the Uganda Olympics Committee media.
“We are grateful for this because other countries have not qualified anyone but we have qualified three.”
In September last year, Kiplimo won the 5000m race with a timing of 12:48:63 at the IAAF Golden Spike in Ostrava.
Will Oscar Chelimo Play Sacrificial Lamb?
In the 10,000m final last week, Cheptegei and Kiplimo used countrymate Stephen Kissa as an early pace setter to break down and tire the rest of the field.
The tactic was that Kissa went ahead of the field fast so that to force others to keep up but wearing them out early.
It was team Uganda’s tactic, preplanned. And when he went into am early lead, Cheptegei and Kiplimo who were aware of the tactic did not go with him.
However, the rest of the contenders did not chase him either! The bait was not taken. But Kissa did his part before bowing out midway.
Fast forward, Ethiopia’s trio od Selemon Barega, Berihu Aregawi and Yomif Kejelcha had their kept secret. The trio burst on the last lap and were chased by the Ugandan duo.
In an epic finish, Barega proved too far from Cheptegei and Kiplimo’s reach.
Whether team Uganda is ready to sacrifice Chelimo, remain to be seen.
Chelimo qualified in fourth with a time of 13.39.04 in the first heat on Monday.