Uganda’s Cheptegei and Ethiopia’s Gidey smash world records in Valencia

Joshua Cheptegei obliterated the men’s 10,000 metres world record while Letesenbet Gidey shattered the women’s 5,000 metres mark as the Valencia World Record Day event lived up to its name on Wednesday.

Ugandan Cheptegei crossed the line at a near-empty Turia stadium in a stunning 26 minutes 11.02 seconds, beating the time of 26:17:53 set in 2005 by Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele by more than six seconds. The feat was achieved at the NN Valencia World Record Day, a one-off event taking place in the Spanish city.

The achievement capped an outstanding 12 months for the 24 year old who won the gold medal in the 10,000m at last year’s World Championships in Doha and only in August smashed Bekele’s 5,000m record at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco. The Ugandan is the 10th man in history to hold the 5,000m and 10,000m world records at the same time.

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Last December, also in Valencia, Cheptegei broke a decade-long record in 10km road running by six seconds.

Only 400 people including sponsors, journalists and staff were allowed into the event due to strict coronavirus measures in Spain but Cheptegei still savoured the moment with a lap of honour, wrapped in the Uganda flag and wearing a crown.

Cheptegei’s outstanding display finished off a perfect event from the organisers point of view after Ethiopian Gidey broke the women’s 5,000 metres world record by more than four seconds, crossing the line in 14 minutes 6.62 seconds.

The 22 year old easily beat the previous record of 14:11.15 set by her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba in Oslo in 2008.

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“This is a longtime dream for me, I’m very happy, this is very big for me,” said Gidey.

The event was organized by Cheptegei’s NN Running Team of the Netherlands and he and Gidey were helped to the finish line by pacers as well as Wavelight technology, which flashes lights on the inside of the track to indicate a specific pace.

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