A number of Uganda's athletes begin their quest for medals at the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships in London this weekend, but focus will be on the 10,000-metre runners in action tonight, reports JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.
The trio of Joshua Cheptegei, Timothy Toroitich and Martin Kurong will not mind completing an unprecedented one-two-three finish in the 10,000-metre race for Uganda but has their work cut out.
A tough field, which includes British star athlete, Mo Farah, awaits the Ugandan runners. Farah has been so dominant, winning this race since his bow back at the 2012 Olympics in London, and will certainly be the man to catch.
Team Uganda’s coach Gordon Ahimbisibwe says the athletes are ready for the tough challenge at hand.
“We are at the world championships because we did good times and qualified. Therefore, we are a threat to the rest of the field too,” Ahimbisibwe said.
Tonight’s race is a repeat of last year’s event at the Olympics, where Uganda’s three will tussle it out with a 24-man field, including Farah and Paul Tanui, who finished first and second respectively. But Cheptegei was impressive, finishing sixth on his Olympics debut, just five seconds behind the winner.
He, however, failed to bag gold during the World Cross Country championships, which Uganda hosted in March, due to an injury sustained on the track after leading much of the race comfortably.
Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor went on to win the race to the chagrin of Cheptegei and his home fans. Cheptegei is expected to draw inspiration from that painful defeat and set the record straight in London.
The 22-year-old has exhibited good progression since then. And it is only a matter of time before he proves his worth.
Yet, that does not mean all the pressure is on Cheptegei. Kurong and Toroitich finished number 22 and 23 respectively in Rio de Janeiro last year out of 32 athletes.
A push for a more respectable placing is all that will suffice. For Esther Chebet, whose path to glory begins from the heats, her plan will be about posting good times to qualify for the semifinals and the finals of the 1,500 metres race.
Esther Chebet in 1500m women's heat
Joshua Cheptegei, Martin Kurong and Timothy Toroitich in 10,000m race final
1500m women's semifinal
Joshua Araptany, Albert Chemutai and Abel Sikowo in 3,000m men's steeplechase heat
Robert Chemonges, Alex Chesakit and Solomon Mutai in men's marathon final