Joshua Cheptegei breaks Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year-old world 5000m record

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Joshua Cheptegei broke the legendary Kenenisa Bekele’s world 5000m record. Credit: Etienne Fiacre.

World 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei set a new world 5000m record in a time of 12:35.36 at the Herculis EBS Diamond League meeting in Monaco on Friday night.

In the first regular top-flight international one-day meet since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ugandan produced an exhilarating performance running alongside the Wavelight at the Stade Louis II Stadium to wipe two seconds from Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year old Hengelo world record time of 12:37.55.

The record had been one of the most longstanding in athletics, with many coming close but unable to surpass the incredible time set by Bekele back in 2004.

Friday’s 5000m event was Cheptegei’s first race since setting a world 5km record on the roads on 16 February, also in Monaco. The Ugandan said of his achievement:

“I’ve learned that anything is possible, if you have the right mindset and believe. I really thank Kenenisa so much for inspiring me when I started running. He has always been a big inspiration and motivation to me. This record is a special moment for me and I like to thank Kenenisa for his inspiration.”

Last year, Joshua enjoyed a brilliant campaign as he won the 5,000m at the Diamond League final in Zurich, the 10,000m at the World Championships in Doha, he set a world 10km record of 26:38 in Valencia, Spain, set a world 5km record of 12:51 in Monaco and s

Paced through the early stages by Roy Hoornweg (2:31.87 at 1000m) and Matthew Ramsden (5:03.77 at 2000m), Cheptegei took up the running at half way and continued churning out 61-second laps. He passed through 3,000m in 7:35.14 and then upped the pace slightly with a 2:30 fourth kilometre.

Having left the rest of the field way behind, he maintained his tempo and eked out another 2:30 split for the final kilometre, bringing him to the finish line in 12:35.36.

Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli, who was just approaching the final straight as Cheptegei crossed the line, finished a distant second in a lifetime best of 12:51.78, while his compatriot Jacob Krop was third in 13:11.32.

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