Kenya’s bid to reclaim men’s 10,000m title at the World Athletics Championships went up in smoke once again after Uganda’s record-breaking maestro Joshua Cheptegei snatched medal in Oregon, USA, on Sunday.
The nation last won gold in the race through Charles Kimathi in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001. Despite the loss, 22-year-old Japan-based Stanley Mburu put smiles on the faces of Kenyan fans as he fought hard to strike a silver medal at the Hayward Field inside University of Oregon.
There was no let up on the drama as the day concluded with a thrilling sprint for victory in the men’s 10,000m final.
Cheptegei held on to the title he won in Doha three years ago to join Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele and Mo Farah as a back-to-back winner of the 25-lap event.
There was also a flying finish to the women’s hammer, though Brooke Andersen had already secured a home gold for the Hayward Field fans to celebrate – and a second US throws title, following Chase Ealey’s shot success on Saturday – before applying the icing on the starred and striped cake with the best effort of the competition, 78.96m.
Earlier in the day, there had also been fireworks on the streets of Eugene, Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola taking the men’s marathon title in a championship record of 2:05:36.
Like the women’s 10,000m final on Saturday, the men’s race was a slow burning affair with a dramatic denouement.
There were eight men still in contention at the bell, at which point Cheptegei – who had dictated most of the pace from the front since halfway – regained the lead and steadfastly remained.
In the Olympic final in Tokyo last year, the 5000m and 10,000m world record-holder had been beaten for pace on the last lap by Selemon Barega. Twelve months on, he thwarted the Ethiopian’s challenge with a final circuit of 53.42.
Poised to strike off the final bend, Barega faded to fifth as Cheptegei sprinted to victory in 27:27.43. Kenya’s Stanley Mburu, who had fallen on the opening lap, took silver in 27:27.90, with Cheptegei’s Ugandan teammate Jacob Kiplimo winning the race for bronze.