LONDON, Joshua Cheptegei has won Uganda's first medal at the 2017 IAAF World Championships here when he ran the race of his life to clinch the silver medal in the men's 10,000 metres, the final event of the programme on the opening day, Friday.
Following a disappointing, topsy-turvy performance at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala in March, redemption could never have come at a better time for Cheptegei, as he now a World Championships silver medallist.
He crossed the finish line only inches behind the career-ending race of Briton Mo Farah in a crowd-lifting conclusion Friday night.
Farah, who won his 10th successive global title in familiar fashion, burst past the finish line wide-eyed and with hands characteristically spread out in a new world leading time of 26:49.51 to win gold in front of a huge home crowd.
Cheptegei, who finished sixth at 2016 Rio Olympics in the same event, came within breathing distance in second place with a personal best time of 26:49.94 while Kenya's Paul Tanui secured bronze with a time of 26:50.60, a season's best time.
Cheptegei had quickly pushed to the front of the 24-strong 10,000m field from the word go. It was a very tactical race which had the East African runners, particularly the Ugandans and Kenyans, trying to work at the front of the pack to frustrate defending champion Farah.
They kept trading places at the front in a bid to keep the British athletics legend at bay, knowing all too well the kind of threat he always carries at the finish.
In the early stages of the race, Farah appeared uninterested in the conspicuous co-operation in front, all the while deciding to run at his own pace at the back.
But as the runners ate away into the laps, and the end drawing ever nearer, the 34-year-old runner, who looked the most at ease, thanks to his seemingly unlaboured style of running, squeezed his way to the front. Just where he loves to be.
His final 400m burst is well documented. It's a powerful one like no other. And once again, like so many times before, Farah took charge of the final lap, making sure to muscle off three marauding Kenyans and Uganda's Cheptegei.
Coming around the last bend, Farah and his closest challengers activated their after-burners as the full house packed inside the London Stadium roared into more life with every stride.
The home favorite got clipped twice on the inside edge but he did well to steady himself in an adrenaline-inducing finale. The end was nigh. No room for slip-ups.
Meanwhile, Cheptegei had done his timing well. If he couldn't beat Farah, then he sensed he definitely could outrun Tanui and Kenyan Bedan Michuri in the home straight. And he did just that, sprinting across the finish line for a deserved podium finish.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK