He beat Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet into second place while the favorite Yomif Kajelcha, also from Ethiopia managed 6th place.
Joshua Cheptegei’s victory is a major step forward in his preparations for the much bigger World Athletics Championships that will be held in Doha, Qatar next month.
Commenting about his win, Cheptegei said: “In Doha I will not compete in the 5k but the 10k. Winning the gold medal there would be special because I have never won a track gold at World Championships. I planned this race and I expected to win. I will train in the mountains of Uganda until Doha and the good thing is that my coach will be there, too.”
Winning the world cross-country title meant a lot to Joshua Cheptegei. It was redemption for his melt-down at home in Kampala two years ago. It was Uganda’s first senior win at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. And he led his team to a gold medal which was another first.
22-year old Cheptegei has indicated he is now setting his sights on succeeding Britain’s Mo Farah as the long distance race king, a position that has been dominated by Britains Mo Farah who announced his intention to retire.
Speaking in Aarhus, Denmark in April this year, shortly after winning the world cross-country title, Cheptegei made no secret of his ambitions.
“My ambition is to dominate the track for the next five or six years,” Cheptegei says. Then he will consider a move to the marathon. For now, though, track distances, cross country and the half marathon are his – rather generous – limits.