Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo have won silver and bronze respectively at the 10000m in Tokyo Olympics.
Ethiopia’s Seleman Barega powered to gold at 27:43.22, denying Uganda a dream one-two in what turned out to be an epic finish.
Cheptegei, pre race favourite, clocked 27:43.63 to come ahead of countrymate Kiplimo at 27.43.63.
The two (Silver and bronze) are the first medals for Uganda at the Tokyo as the country’s medal count goes to nine overall.
Cheptegei and Kiplimo join John Akii-Bua (Gold, 400m hurdles 1972 munich), Davis Kamoga (Bronze, 400m 1996 Atlanta) and Stephen Kiprotich (Gold, Marathon 2012 London) to have won an Olympics medal for Uganda in Athletics.
The other Olympics medals for Uganda have come in Boxing – Eridad Mukwanga (Silver – 1968 Mexico), Leo Rwabogo (Bronze – 1968 Mexico), Leo Rwabogo (Silver – 1972 Munich) and John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi (Silver – 1980 Moscow).
Uganda’s Stephen Kissa tactically sacrificed himself to set early pace before pulling out midway through the race.
Cheptegei looked to be in cruise control but a surprise breakaway after the bell from the Ethiopians garnered a late sprint down the stretch.
Barega crossed first after holding off Cheptegei and Kiplimo.
Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi came fourth and missed out on the medal bracket. USA’s Grant Fisher was fifth and Canada’s Ahmed sixth.
Mixed Emotions For Uganda
Silver and bronze call for celebrations. But Cheptegei and Kiplimo will feel they could have done better on the day.
Cheptegei who broke Kenenisa Bekele’s 15-year-old 10,000m record in Valencia with a time of 26:11.00, will feel hard done by missing out on gold.
Before the race, it was all for the 2019 world champion to lose after his close competitors two-time defending champion Mo Farah (Great Britain) got injured while Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor, who won silver at the 2015 world silver medallist pulled out.
However, this was Cheptegei’s first 10000m race this year.
It turned out to be tactical as every leader pulled and slowed before Selemon Barega and his Ethiopian contingent burst forward in the last lap.
It is a big milestone foe Barega who won gold at the 2016 World U20 Championship and 2017 World U18 Championships.
Barega who had won the Ethiopian trials in Hengelo, is a 5000m Silver medalist at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
Kiplimo who was making his second appearance at the games, was also a favourite having set a world-leading 26:33.93 in Ostrava earlier this year.
However, a bronze will be a big motivation for the 20-year old going into his much fancied 5000m next week.
Its more woes for Kenya whose last gold medal at the distance was in 1968 in Mexico when Naftali Temu was victorius.
In Tokyo, Rodgers Kwemoi, Rhonex Kipruto and Weldon Kipkirui all missed a place on the podium.
Elsewhere for Uganda on Friday in Athetics:
Earlier, Albert Chemutai missed out on a place in the 3000m Steeplechase.
Halimah Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo qualified to the 800m semifinals.
Prisca Chesang, Esther Chebet and Sarah Chelangat failed to qualify out of their heats at the 5000m.