Series06 Jan 2018

That moment when… Cheptegei made his international debut


Ugandan distance runner Joshua Cheptegei (© Getty Images)

World 10,000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei is among the world’s leading endurance running talents. Here the 21-year-old Ugandan reflects on a breakthrough performance from earlier in his career.



"Since 2010 I knew I had a talent for running, but because I was focused on school, it was only from 2013 that I decided to focus on running.

"Back then I didn’t have a coach, I was carrying out my own training programme and I took advice from friends whom I trained with. After finishing seventh in the junior race at the 2014 African Cross Country Championships in Uganda, I started working with Global Sports Communication and I was entered for the TCS World 10km in Bangalore as a form guide ahead of the World U20 Championships in Eugene later that year.

"At that point in my career, I completed a lot of hard but short runs at around 40 minutes on a hilly course, so I felt more mentally than physically prepared for my test in Bangalore.

"It was a very special race for me because it was my international race. The diet in India was challenging as it was very spicy and different to what I was used to. Also, the culture was quite different, although I found it very interesting too.

"I knew that day I was up against Geoffrey Kamworor, who a couple of months earlier had landed the world half-marathon title. I had watched him compete on television, but rather than fear him, I grew motivation from that and desired one day to reach the same level. It was very inspiring to compete against him in Bangalore.

"The race was really tough. I had to push hard and remain focused to achieve a top-three position. Entering the stadium for the final 350 metres, I knew I had achieved my goal. I crossed the finish line second in a time of 28:24, 40 seconds behind Geoffrey. I was overjoyed to run such a good race on my international debut.

"This performance was a stepping stone for the rest of my career and changed my life for the better. It made me more determined and gave me the courage to continue working hard to achieve greater performances. I felt that day I discovered a lot of my potential and it motivated me for the future.

"Two months later I secured the world U20 10,000m crown, but I believe it was my display in Bangalore that unlocked the door to helping me achieve my future goals in the sport."

Steve Landells for the IAAF