Valencia (dpa) – Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda and the Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey celebrated with golden crowns on their heads in Valencia.

The two endurance aces brought athletics two more highlights at the end of a shortened and difficult season with their world records in the 10,000 and 5,000 meters. “I was trying to make history so that people could be happy about something,” said 24-year-old Cheptegei. “In times of the corona pandemic, such an event gives us hope. We all want to return to normal with all caution.”

At a time when many top runners were no longer motivated, the meeting was billed as “World Record Day” – and it did what it promised. Cheptegei won the 10,000 meter race in 26: 11.00 minutes in front of a few spectators and remained more than six seconds below the 15-year record of the Ethiopian running star Kenenisa Bekele – without a pacemaker on the second part of the course. The world champion did the most laps in 63 seconds, and in the last he shifted up a gear.

Cheptegei is only the tenth athlete to hold world records in the 5000 and 10,000 meters – including running legends like Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek and Haile Gebrselassie.

In each of his three races in 2020, Cheptegei was faster than anyone else: in February he ran the 5 kilometers on the road in 12:51 minutes and in August – also in Monaco – the 5000 meters in the stadium at 12:35, 36 minutes. Born in Kapchorwa District, which borders Kenya, Cheptegei is the second oldest of a total of nine children in his family.

Given his super run of records, Gidey’s performance in Valencia was somewhat overshadowed: the 22-year-old cleared her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba’s 5,000-meter record: she crossed the finish line after 14: 06.62 minutes and was almost five seconds faster than Dibaba eleven years ago. The three-time Olympic champion drove 14: 11.15 minutes in Oslo in 2008. In the end, Gidey kept looking at the boundary of the interior: blue and green LED displays set the world record speed there.

For Cheptegei, the season is not completely over without the Olympics, he could even win a World Cup medal: in the title fights in the non-Olympic half marathon on October 17 in Gdynia, Poland, he is now one of the favorites. “In this difficult situation, such things can give us joy and hope for the future,” said the new running hero.

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