With athletic prowess, elegant technique, pace to burn and angelic command of a track, Joshua Cheptegei scattered the world super powers and forced them to willfully bow. Without ever engaging fifth gear, he strode past the leading pack of five and then, at 200 metres, he took over nonchalantly.
From then on, it became a one man race. Even then, on 100 metres, he looked so casual, hardly breaking sweat and gliding instead of sprinting to the finish line. Never before have I seen an athlete racing to gold with such ease, fun and confidence.
Cheptegei destroyed the legend of Kenya and Ethiopia, the myth of the USA, the wonder of Canada at Tokyo 2020, the Greatness of Britain and the glamour of France by sticking out his tongue while looking at the clock at the finish line oblivious of the bodies crawling behind him in horror and frustration.
He knew, like we all know now, that his 2nd gold medal at Tokyo 2020; the first ever feat by a Ugandan at the Olympics has qualified him as the G.O.A.T and he was going to make it sink in the hearts and minds of all and sundry.
When he rose at the podium to claim his gold, he chest thumped over and over again with a radiant smile and hearty laughter. The pride that he was the reason why the Ugandan national anthem was being played twice infront of the eyes of the world was incomparable to any emotion he had felt before.
For the third time in six days, Ugandans at home were celebrating as though they had just witnessed Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Cheptegei has surpassed any glory we have seen before and he has inspired thousands.
For me, it’s the manner and style of his victory – his nonchalance – that I will forever hold dear to memory. How could a Ugandan win gold with so little to do while the world super powers and legends of the race (Kenya & Ethiopia) were bursting their lungs to at least get within 5 metres of his lead. This was a decimation. An obliteration of standards that long distance runners had gotten used to. It is not just greatness, it’s immortality.
Congratulations Joshua. Uganda owes you.
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