Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei is just about the most popular name in the world of athletics at the moment.
This comes after he broke the world record in the men’s 5,000 meters at the Monaco Diamond League meet on August 14.
Cheptegei put up an impressive performance in the first completely in-person Diamond League event of the year to smash the record.
The 23-year-old ran 12:35.36s, averaging 4:03 per mile to break the record which has stood since 2004.
Below are 5 interesting things you may not have known about the Ugandan long-distance runner:
1. He’s an Inspector of Police
The 23-year-old was drafted by the Uganda Police after his impressive performance at the World Juniors.
While it usually takes years to get promoted in the Police, Cheptegei moved from a Special Police Constable to Inspector of Police in a shit while due to his athletics prowess.
His promotion saw him move four ranks after he won double gold at the Commonwealth Games.
2. He wanted to become a footballer
Cheptegei’s childhood in Uganda saw him first fall in love with football, just like many other kids in the country.
He grew up in Kwoti, in Kapchorwa in eastern Uganda, and was inclined towards team sport until a friend, Benjamin Njia, urged him to opt for running.
“When I saw him running, I saw his talent and pushed him to concentrate on athletics,” Njia admitted in an interview.
“He started running seriously in 2004, and it paid off when he went for the 2014 World Juniors in Eugene. He won the 10,000m gold.”
3. Smashed 4 world records in two years
Cheptegei has broken four world records in two years since rising to prominence in the world of athletics.
He improved the 15km world best by eight seconds to 41.05 seconds during his first shot at fast running in 2018.
He added another in the form of the 10km road race world record in Valencia in 26:38 in the 2019 season, before his latest feat in the 5,000 meters at the Monaco Diamond League meet.
4. He failed in his first cross country
Many now know of Cheptegei’s success, but very few know that he failed at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships hosted in Uganda.
Despite being his country’s favourite for gold, he finished in the senior 10km race in a disappointing 30th position.
This failure, however, spurred him on and fueled his success, becoming Uganda’s first World Cross country title in Aarhus, Denmark in 2019.
5. He used to study for a degree
The Ugandan runner studied for a Bachelor of Education at the Bugema University for two years before opting out.
He is a passionate storyteller, an ardent reader and also loves literature despite now focusing on athletics.
“He reads a lot of books during his free time,” his friend Njia told the Olympic Channel from Kampala.
“He is also very social and cuts across all circles and networks, that’s a natural skill strengthened by the fact that he studied literature.”