Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei has set a new 5000m world record of 12:35.36 at the season-opening Monaco Diamond League breaking Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year old world record of 12:37.35 set in 2004 in Hengelo.
The Ugandan, who annexed the world cross-country title as well as the 10,000m title last year, and set a world 5km record on the road in Monaco in February, extended his realm by attacking and conquering the great Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year-old 5000m monument of 12:37.35 in a bravura solo performance.
The pace was so fierce that Cheptegei had run out of pacemakers by half way and the only other man in sight was Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli. Within a lap the genial but ambitious Ugandan was alone in his quest for immortality, pressing on remorselessly with metronomic 61-second laps.
As he hit the bell at 11:35, it was apparent that the record was his for the taking and he came home in 60 seconds as the small socially-distanced crowd allowed him to attend the meeting and applauded.
Cheptegei had made no secret of his desire to take down Bekele’s mark and was not deterred by the seemingly unfavourably warm conditions at Stade Louis II. It was still 26 degrees and 78 per cent humidity as his attempt began.
“I think Monaco is a special place and it’s one of these places where I could break the world record,” he said.
“It took a lot of mind setting to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying at home but you have to stay motivated. I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach. I’m also usually based in Europe, but being based in Uganda with my family was actually great.”
Kimeli was the only other man who broke 13 minutes, as he finished a distant second in a lifetime best of 12:51.78.
In 2017, he became the silver medalist in the 10,000 meters run at the World Championship in London. In 2018, he set a world record for the 15km road race and became the World Cross Country champion in 2019. That year at the World Championships in Doha, he won a gold medal in the 10,000 meters men’s final.
In 2020 during the Diamond League competition, he set a new world road 5km record of 12:51 in Monaco, beating the old fastest time by Nine seconds.