By Goodluck Musinguzi
Sports has the power of uniting Ugandans even where the COVID-19 pandemic has failed. Joshua Cheptegei used the lockdown to improve from being an endurance-based sportsman to speed-based.
Those old enough remember Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele was a speed machant for years. Joshua Cheptegei first disappointed Ugandans who came out in thousands to support him at Kololo airstrip when we hosted the World Cross Country in 2017.
With local and international televisions continually replaying what Ugandans came to call the Kololo debacle, Cheptegei was psychologically shattered. It took time for him to recover, he once told Newvision sports Editors what he went through.
“It took me time to even return to training. But I eventually came to accept that life is not a straight line. There are highs and lows. I was hopeful of rising again.”
The afternoon heat at Kololo Airstrip course took its toll and Cheptegei burnt out.Images of a drunken-like Cheptegei staggering to the finish line were so bad, Cheptegei eventually finished a disappointing 30th. After the Kololo disappointment, he bounced back with a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in London.
Cheptegei’s light was due to shine even brighter. President Museveni said Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said Congratulations to Joshua Cheptegei who has set a new 5,000m world record at the #MonacoDL. You have brought honour, pride and joy to your country. Well done!
Joshua Cheptegei replied President Museveni thanking him for the support he gave them that enabled them to shine on worls stage.
Thank you Mr president HE KagutaMuseveni, I and the team to monaco are grateful for your kind support towards enabling us fly, this really shows your tireless effort to make the Ugandan sport to grow big. Thank you to Mama Janet Museveni for flagging us off and Uganda Airlines.
Hon Janet Museveni first flagged off the team with this message, I flagged off a team of four Ugandan athletes this morning. They will take part in the Monaco Diamond League this month. I wish them well. May they excel and make Uganda proud.
She asked them to keep safe, to the athletes, please take care to protect yourselves from #COVID19, remember that self discipline is a big factor in the fight against this virus. God be with you.
Hon Janet Museveni congratulated Joshua Cheptegei, “you have done it again. You have kept your promise to me and Ugandans to win again. You have even gone ahead to break the World Record in 5,000m at the #MonacoDl . We are immensely proud of you. Congratulations and keep it up”.
Ahabwe Ahabwe a sports lover said there’s no amount of money you’d pay to advertise Uganda that wud equal this. I said the same when Stephen Kiprotich crossed the London Marathon finishing line draped in the Uganda flag.
Invest in sport, and you will never need to politic it. WE’RE TALENTED!!!! @joshuacheptege1
Hon Denis Hamson Obua, the State Minister of Education in charge of Sports,Congratulated Joshua Cheptegei on a brilliant run! You promised to break the record and kept your word. Amazing run tonight in Monaco
Jonathan Gault a journalist in Monaco said If you want to know how Joshua Cheptegei just ran 12:35.56 to break the 5,000-meter world record — and why he needed a flight chartered by the Ugandan president and a 22-hour layover in Istanbul to get to the race. Read the link below
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Jacob Oulanyah Congratulations Joshua Cheptegei thank you for lifting our flag so high and making Uganda super proud Receive my heartiest congrats Well done !
World Athletics says Joshua Cheptegei performance was great. To put Joshua’s performance into perspective, this is how his kilometre splits compare to the other five fastest 5000m times in history.
Joshua Cheptegei said A special thanks to HE the French ambassador Jules-Armand Aniambossou. That he is a real diplomat at the fore front of supporting Uganda’s sportsman,you came in when we really needed you.I can’t offer much but o salute you sir.