By Javier Silas Omagor
World champion Joshua Cheptegei has withdrawn from Sunday’s (September 11, 2022) Great North Run due to injury.
The 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder had been busy training to take part in the half-marathon that will take place in the English city of Newcastle, but on Wednesday evening, September 7, a persistent pain in his right leg forced him to reverse his decision and sit this one out.
“It is with great sadness that I have to withdraw from Sunday’s Great North Run,” he tweeted on Thursday, September 8, blaming his withdrawal on the niggle.
“I was really looking forward to competing in this historic race, but an injury won’t allow me,” added the Olympic champion.
The 25-year-old runner later told New Vision that he will “certainly bounce back even hungrier and angrier”.
He had been scheduled to fly to England on Wednesday (September 7).
‘Cautiously manage every step’
Cheptegei had recovered from a calf and hamstring injury he suffered while competing in the 5,000m final at the Athletics World Championships in Oregon in July, where he finished ninth behind compatriot Oscar Chelimo, who took bronze.
In that race, Cheptegei was spiked by a competitor during the 12-and-a-half-lap track race.
His personal coach, Addy Ruiter, said the latest pain emanated from the injury suffered in Oregon.
“It has been clearing up in the last few weeks and all signs were Josh was travelling for the competition (Great North Run).
“But injuries are unpredictable, and we have to cautiously manage every step,” said the Dutch coach, who expects Cheptegei to stay out of action for at least three to four weeks.
“Enough time is needed for his proper healing and rest.”
Kiplimo remains focused
Cheptegei had hoped to race in Newcastle alongside compatriot Jacob Kiplimo, who holds the world record for the half-marathon (57:31).
The Ugandan pair last competed in the same race in July this year in the 10,000m final at the Worlds in Oregon. With Cheptegei’s latest setback, they will have to wait a little longer to compete together again.
Cheptegei’s injury meant that he was a no-show at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. His absence allowed Kiplimo to duly step in his shoes and ensure that Uganda retained the Commonwealth Games long-distance bragging rights.
Kiplimo returns to English soil a little over a month since his 10,000m and 5,000m golden triumph in Birmingham.
Ahead of Sunday’s race, the 2017 world cross-country junior champion has been engaged in intense training with his resident coach, Peter Chelangat, in his native Kapchorwa town in eastern Uganda.
The focus has been on speed, tempo, endurance and finishing.
The last time Kiplimo competed in the 21km was in February this year, when he set a new Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon course record in Dubai, clocking 57:56 on the mostly flat terrain.