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Lessons to be Learnt From Cheptegei’s Ascent to the top of World Athletics


By Isaac Akugizibwe

KIU, Main Campus - Joshua Cheptegei continued his exploits this year after being named Sports Personality of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year in the Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) awards gala held at Serena Hotel in Kampala on November 18.

This follows his world-record-breaking runs in the 10,000-metre and 5,000-metre races in Valencia and Monaco respectively after the resumption of business in world athletics following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also broke the 5km world record, also in Monaco earlier this year. 

Cheptegei’s undisputed victory shows that there is a lot to learn for both sports lovers and non-sports lovers. The most important lesson to take home is that winners will always be rewarded. You can never be rewarded without emerging winner in any situation or anything be it academics, arts or life itself. 

Another lesson is that we should never give up. During the World Cross-country Championships held in Kampala in 2017, Joshua Cheptegei led for the larger part of the race, only to capitulate in the last kilometre and finish among the last participants. This caused a lot of criticism from Ugandans and the media but the then 21-year-old never thought about giving up like many would have. He kept working hard and working on his weaknesses. It is no wonder that in his record-breaking runs, he has very strong finishes to the races. We learn that sometimes we have to first fail in order to succeed. 

It is also clear that hard work really pays off. You can’t be successful without working hard no matter who you are. If you work hard and do the right things at the right time you will surely explore the heights like Joshua Cheptegei.

Joshua Cheptegei is only the 10th man in history to hold the 5000 metres and 10,000 world records concurrently. He has so far won the USPA best sports personality award two consecutive times; in 2018 and 2019. The 2019 awards ceremony was held in November 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced organizers to shift it from March this year.

Like Halima Nakaayi, the reigning female 800-metre world champion said while delivering her acceptance speech after receiving her award for Female Athlete of the Year during the same USPA gala, success is a choice.

"Success is a choice. No matter where you come from, no matter your size, tribe, you can become whatever you become as long as you chase your dream," Nakaayi said.

Picture credit: ABC News