On Wednesday, May, 19, world 10000 metre champion Joshua Cheptegei will be back to the track, but this time round, competing in the 3000 metre for the first time in the 60th Ostrava Golden Spike in Czech Republic.
On Saturday, the world champion, who also doubles as a Uganda Tourism Board brand ambassador was flagged off for Ostrava but was quick to admit that he looks forward to making yet another piece of history.
“I have been preparing for the upcoming race and whereas the 3000 metres is not my specialty, I want to make history and show the world the might of the silverback,” said Cheptegei, who was named by UTB after the dominant alpha male gorilla, one of the rarest tourist attractions that Uganda boasts of.
“I was named the silverback because of my strength and to this; I want to conquer the athletics world to become an icon.”
Whereas earlier this month, Cheptegei was beaten to the prestigious sportsman of the year gong at the Laureus Awards in Seville, Spain where he had been pitted against tennis legend Rafael Nadal, seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, LA Lakers’ LeBron James and Bayern Munich star, Robert Lewandowski among others, Cheptegei thinks that is now a story of the past and is looking forward to yet another feat in world athletics.
“I wasn’t able to win but I have belief that the silverback will rise strongly and determined to take on the world and show them that Uganda is a land of possibilities. This is a rare opportunity to show the world that Uganda is a land of immense beauty.”
He believes the race in Ostrava will prepare him for the forthcoming Olympic Games on Tokyo, Japan.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony at their offices in Kampala, UTB Marketing Manager, Claire Mugabi, Cheptegei will help not carry the Ugandan flag at an international platform but also influence visitors to the country.
“The value and visibility we get from Cheptegei is through the people who tune in to watch him run and get encouraged to visit Uganda,”Mugabi said.
She noted that the way Uganda has successfully handled the Coronavirus pandemic is another reason for visitors to come to the country christened the pearl of Africa due to its immense beauty.
“We have shown the world that we are the safest country in the region for visitors and anyone.”