Uganda’s accomplished runner, Joshua Cheptegei, the reigning Olympic 5,000m champion and record holder for 5,000m and 10,000m, is eagerly anticipating the Belfast 5km and Mile Road Race on June 9th. This event is strategically placed as his ultimate competition before defending his title at the upcoming Paris Games.

At 27, Cheptegei clinched gold in Tokyo in 2021 and has an impressive record with three 10,000m world titles and a world cross country title in addition to his Olympic triumph. Expressing excitement about the Belfast race, he views it as essential preparation for the Olympics.

“This marks my final race before the Olympic Games,” Cheptegei shares, highlighting the importance of the Belfast event in his training schedule. “When the opportunity arose to participate in the 5k in Belfast, I embraced it wholeheartedly. It’s the perfect lead-up to the Olympics, and my primary objective is to give my best and clock a fast 5k.”

Joshua Cheptegei wins his third 10,000m world champ title in Budapest 2023. Photo credit: Shaun Botterill, 2023 Getty Images

Scheduled to be the headline act at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, an event granted World Athletics Elite Label status, Cheptegei acknowledges the uncertainty surrounding whether he will aim for Berihu Aregawi’s 5km road world record of 12 minutes 49 seconds. Despite Aregawi surpassing Cheptegei’s previous record in 2021, the Ugandan athlete remains focused on delivering a top-tier performance.


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“I’m uncertain about the time I will clock,” Cheptegei admits, emphasizing his commitment to giving his best. “It could be under 13 minutes; I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and ensuring my body is primed for the Olympic Games.”

With the Belfast race being only his second appearance in the United Kingdom, Cheptegei acknowledges the unique challenge while expressing his affinity for the 10,000m. Confident in his capabilities, he plans to compete in both the 5,000m and 10,000m events in Paris, seeking to replicate the success he enjoyed in Tokyo.

“I still have a deep passion for the 10,000m, and I’m gearing up for the double,” Cheptegei affirms, highlighting the sentimental value of the 10,000m distance. As he readies himself for the Belfast race, the Ugandan distance running sensation remains a source of anticipation and resolve, poised to demonstrate his excellence on the global stage once more.