Uganda’s sensentional long distance runner Joshua Cheptegei has broken silence on what transpired in his life after miraculously failing to win the IAAF World Cross Country championship held in Uganda in 2017.
“What happened to me in 2017 is something that can not be explained very well. After the race, the head of state organized a personal doctor and took me to Nakasero Hospital but there was nothing wrong found. I think you even saw me going to the podium for a team medal award ceremony,” he told NTV’s
Press Box on Monday.
In fact, Cheptegei was appearing on the weekly sports show for the second consecutive time. He had virtually granted the program an interview the previous Monday which seemed to have rubbed many a Ugandans the wrong way.
The runner was quoted in different media as having told the Press Box;
“To the Ugandans and media houses who mocked me and made fun of me during the cross country at Kololo in 2017, I wanted to prove to you that I’m the best in the world and you don’t deserve me in actual sense.”
Cheptegei, 21 then, was without a doubt Uganda’s hope for an individual medal heading into the Championships that were hosted at Kololo and had not disappointed for the bigger part of the race until something unexpected happened!
The Ugandan lost his lead with just under a kilometer to go when he horribly tripped, slowed down and walked to the finish line granting defending champion Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor a rare opportunity to retain the title.
From leading the pack for most of the race, the Ugandan agonizingly crossed the finishing line in the 30th position leaving multitudes of Ugandans including the president, Yoweri Museveni in utter shock.
Next, were unfounded mocks and insults hulled at the now truck and field giant via different social media and some traditional media outlets.
However, since the unfortunate event, Cheptegei has shown how focused he is and has risen to break various records, something that Uganda is priding herself in.
Since then, Cheptegei has won silver at the 10,000m world championships in London, set a world record in 15km road race in Nijmegen, Netherlands, won the World Cross Country Championship in Aathus, Denmark, won a Gold medal in the 10,000m championships in Doha, broke the World record in 5km road race in Monaco and his recent 10,000m World record in Valencia.
Yesterday, Cheptegei reteirated his earlier comments on the same program. He said his success was inspired by the mocks and the disappointment he got in 2017.
“I derive my motivation from the aspect of trying to be better and better every time.”
Although he said not all Ugandans are bad, Cheptegei insists alot is left to be desired.
“It depends on how someone picks what you say. In life, there’s a time you have speak the truth. To let it out of your heart.
There are many Ugandans who have been.” supporting me.
Cheptegei said; “after 2017, I turned down an offer from one of the Arabic countries to change citizenship . I decided to be patriotic and stayed in this country because I love Uganda.”
He said athletes are not appreciated enough in Uganda.
“They always tell me, Joshua, can you come and be part of our campaign? You are killing someone’s talent, Do you know how much resources and time I have put in to train and succeed?” He asked. The 24 year old runner added that if he was in Europe or another country, he would be signing big contracts with big companies which is not the case in Uganda.
He however thanked MTN Uganda who recently acknowledged and appreciated him for breaking the 5000M record.
Cheptegei clocked 12:35.36 as he smashed Kenenisa Bekele’s long-standing record to become the yardstick in the 5000m during the Diamond League meet in Monaco this year.
And as a token of appreciation, the telecom company rewarded him for that feat with over 123 million shillings.
Cheptegei however says many other corporate companies should come on board and some athletes in the country.