In long-distance running events at championships like the Olympics, speed isn’t everything, thus top competitors turn to techniques to win.
As the favourite in the men’s 10000m event, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei could either cement his reputation or break it in the final. To win the 25-lap event would be Uganda’s third Olympic gold medal and he is prepared to give it his all.
S. Kissa Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Jacob Kiplimo and Stephen Kissa, both of whom will be crucial to Cheptegei’s chances of winning at the National Stadium, will be by his side.
Kissa is Cheptegei’s secret weapon, and nobody knows it. Cheptegei’s first photo with Kissa in Japan was captioned “First steps in Japan” and shared with his 152,000 Instagram followers this week.
Kissa, who prefers to keep to himself and maintain a low profile, is a capable long-distance runner with promising future prospects on the road, especially at the half-marathon level.
He has been Cheptegei’s go-to guy since this time last year. While pretending to be coaches at the Global Sports Communication (GSC) camp in Kapchorwa, Addy Ruiter and Denis Okudach pass along notes and programmes to Cheptegei.
On June 8 at the Ethiopian Trials in Hengelo, Netherlands, Kissa qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by finishing eighth in a time of 27:26.46. This likely made Cheptegei and Ruiter the happiest people in the world.
Respectfully, Ruiter has kept mum about tonight’s racing strategy, but Kissa may fill the role Mande did two years ago. The Dutch trainer promised that his team would witness this on Friday.
As a pacesetter, Kissa saw Cheptegei through the first kilometre in 2:31.87 last August in the Monaco Diamond League in France, where Cheptegei went on to lower Kenenisa Bekele’s 5000m world record (WR) to 12:35.36.
Two months later, in October of last year, at the NN Running World Record Day in Valencia, Spain, Kissa was at it again, this time pushing Cheptegei to maintain with the wave light on their way to lowering Bekele’s 10000m WR to 26:11.00he
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