There was a lot to celebrate yesterday as Uganda won her first medals at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo clinched Silver and Bronze respectively in the 10,000m final.
Those were the eighth and ninth medals won by the Pearl of Africa since her first participation in the quadrennial games in 1956 in Melbourne,Australia.
Uganda had last won an Olympic medal in 2012 with Stephen Kiprotich’s Gold in the Marathon on the streets of London. In addition, these were the first medals on the track since Davis Kamoga’s sprint got him 400m Bronze at Atlanta 1996.
However, global media treated Ethiopian Selemon Barega’s Gold as ‘an upset’ as Cheptegei started the race as favourite.
“Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega upset world champion and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei to claim 10,000m gold in Tokyo’s first athletics final,” the BBC wrote.
American media house, ESPN, had Cheptegei and Kiplimo penciled for a 1-2 finish.
“Barega’s last-lap burst was good enough as he moved out in front with about 300 metres to go and held off the late charge by the two Ugandans, who were expected to go 1-2 in the first track final of the Tokyo Games,” ESPN wrote.
Sports Illustrated wasn’t too different. “With a 53.92-second last lap, Barega held off world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda for the 27:43.22 victory,” SI explained.
While Cheptegei had a busy 2020, breaking world records on the track and the road, Barega preserved himself for this Olympic final.
Cheptegei broke the world record in his last major 10,000m race in October and was seen as the best in the world coming into the Olympics.
But he took a gamble by not running in any international races over the distance since that record-breaking run.
“I was able to achieve the gold medal because I was not participating in other competitions, and I was able to focus on achieving the gold medal in this Olympics,” said a delighted Barega after the race.