By Javier Silas Omagor
Remember the name, Jacob Kiplimo!
The senior men’s title at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Bathurst 23 remained with Uganda, but this time a different athlete wore the crown as Kiplimo claimed gold.
Kiplimo, 22, stunningly put up a solid masterclass performance that enabled him to turn silver into gold at the 2023 World Cross Country in Bathurst, New Wales, Australia on Saturday, February 18.
After a stellar cruise, the Commonwealth Games double gold medallist left all his much-experienced competitors for dust as he crossed the line at 29 minutes and 17 seconds to succeed his compatriot, Joshua Cheptegei, as world beater.
The UWA Athletics club star-runner finished second in the senior men’s race in Aarhus four years ago, despite still only being 18 years old at the time. But he earned his first senior global title 18 months later when winning at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia. Kiplimo also went on to break the world record in the aforementioned discipline in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon during the EDB half marathon when he clocked an unchartered time of 57: 31.
In the years that followed, though, he was beaten into bronze over 10,000m at the Olympic Games in 2021 and at the World Championships in 2022.
But over the weekend in Bathurst, Kiplimo’s brilliance shone through, conquering an incredibly strong field and defying the stormy conditions that broke out just a few minutes into the race.
Nonetheless Cheptegei, the Olympics Champion was also stellar in his execution enabling him to mine a bronze medal as Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi clinched a silver.
The Ugandan duo dominated the last edition of the championships in Aarhus, Denmark 2019, with Cheptegei winning gold as Kiplimo took silver. Cheptegei and Kiplimo are ultimately making their case clear in long distance running and the latter has attracted even much praise from far and wide.
Sports minister, NCS, UAF, coaches applaud Kiplimo
The lyrical wax special pitch was led by sports minister Peter Ogwang: “First of all, I would like to begin by thanking God for our team Uganda and, of course, the champion Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei for their breathtaking performance in the senior men’s category.”
The delighted Ogwang was also quick to laud the team behind the success of the superstars, “I also want to applaud the coaches for the job well done. This is only a young team and the future is very bright.”
The sports minister added: “The Uganda Athletics Federation president Dominic Otucet and general secretary Beatrice Ayikoru have all done a commendable job to facilitate the progress of Kiplimo and his teammates.”
Otucet himself was in Australia watching Kiplimo and co race and in his interview with New Vision, he reminisced about Kiplimo’s attitude before and during the race as well as his eye-catching performance.
“Jacob (Kiplimo) was very confident throughout the journey and in the camp, he was simply the highest of spirits. Congratulations to him. We are very proud of him!” Otucet applauded.
The UAF chief continued: “In him (Kiplimo), we definitely have a very bright future. May God continually bless him and make him an enduring blessing to our country, Uganda!”
The National Council of Sports General Secretary, Dr. Bernard Ogwel, was also impressed by the youthful runner.
“Jacob has come of age to demonstrate his true colours and self-determination. He could not allow the Ethiopian athlete (Aregawi) to topple both of them,” Ogwel told The Kampala Sun.
The NCS boss also believes that it was a well-deserved win emanating from an inspirational team work between Kiplimo and Cheptegei whom he thinks still has more to give in his skillset store.
“I congratulate Kiplimo, Cheptegei, Team Uganda and UAF,” Ogwel said.
Peter Chelangat is Kiplimo’s personal coach under Rosa Associati International Sports Agency deputizing Brasi Lacopo: “I want to appreciate Kiplimo’s resilience and discipline that enabled him to win the title for our country, Uganda.”
“Together with Cheptegei and all the squad, the team worked as a unit and Kiplimo was only a beneficiary of that so well.”
National athletics coach Benjamin Njia, who was part of the technical team in Bathurst, said: “It was absolutely superb and I really congratulate Jacob Kiplimo, Joshua Cheptegei and team Uganda for putting such a wonderful result today.”
Njia added: “I’m extremely proud to be the coach of this team.”
Uganda took home an overall team’s bronze medal as gold and silver belonged to Kenya and Ethiopia respectively.