Uganda: Cheptegei Announces Plans to Quit Track Racing for Marathons

Joshua Cheptegei.

Uganda's three-time World champion, Joshua Cheptegei has stepped up preparations for the forthcoming Olympics in Paris but also announced that this could be the last time he is seen competing at track events.

Cheptegei revealed this as he was being unveiled as the latest brand ambassador for the Infinix Note 40 series phone. The phone, which requires just eight minutes to realize a 50 per cent capacity battery charge fits in well with Uganda's arguably greatest sports personality, who holds the fastest times in both the 10,000 and 5000 metres, set back in 2021.

"Looking back to when I really started my breakout in 2017, I have had some really good races on the track. And right now, I am getting ready for Paris. But I believe this will be the last time I do track at the Olympics. I need to pave way for the younger athletes coming through who are really good," said Cheptegei.

This will not sound good to many athletics fans, who believe that Cheptegei at 27, is simply in his prime, and therefore, can still compete on track. Athletics coach Benjamin Longiros is one of those not convinced by Cheptegei's decision to leave track for marathons or road races, as has been intermittently said for a while now.

"Normally, long-distance track athletes decide to go for marathons, when they have lost the burst of pace that is required in either the 5000 or 10000 metres races. But Cheptegei is still in good shape to compete there. I am sure we will still see the best of him in Paris in that regard," said Longiros.

In addition, Longiros noted, that until Cheptegei realizes that his speed has gone down, that is when he should think of quitting track racing. According to Longiros, Cheptegei still has a few more years on track where he can viably compete. Notably, marathoners do not necessarily need the burst of speed like a 5000 or 10000 metres runner needs.

Instead, it is largely about endurance for races like the marathon, a key facet of Cheptegei's running ability. On the other hand, it is argued that Cheptegei wants to leave the platform for Jacob Kiplimo, 23, whose recent performances have been equally impressive.

Kiplimo recently won the World Cross-Country race in Bathurst, Australia as Cheptegei finished sixth. Nevertheless, Cheptegei does not view Kiplimo as a competitor. Instead, they compliment each other, as Cheptegei opined that they share each other's success for Uganda.

Notably, Cheptegei's partnership with Infinix is expected to benefit the "Cheptegei Foundation", which educates hundreds of schoolchildren. To kick-start off this partnership, Cheptegei's schools acquire computers through the support from Infinix.

This is intended to aid in the children's learning through access to global information. Cheptegei will later this month head out to the Diamond League as he gears up for the Olympics.

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