Some are hampered by competition, while others use it to grow stronger. Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo are in the latter group. The two Ugandans help each other.
The good thing about competition is that it can make you grow wings. Joshua Cheptegei has experienced this. The 26-year-old cross-country runner was, for a very long time, the only Ugandan face in his various races around the world. But for some time now, a new face has emerged, that of Jacob Kiplimo. The 22 year old runner follows in the footsteps of his elder brother, and sometimes even steps on his toes. All this in a very sporty way. The two men appreciate and respect each other. I was always traveling alone to competitions, fighting alone to represent and win for the country," Cheptegei told BBC Sport Africa. But when Jacob came along, I think the pressure on my shoulders was reduced because it's not good for a country to look up to only one person."
If he is so happy to see Kiplimo shine, it is because Joshua Cheptegei was aware of one thing: out of 5,000 and 10,000, he was Uganda's only chance for medals. But that was before. At the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Cheptegei withdrew from the competition due to injury. Kiplimo took charge and won the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races, earning his first senior track titles.
Joshua the big brother
"Joshua has given me a lot of advice over the past four years, a lot of encouragement. He cares about me a lot and tells me what to do to succeed. He's been a good friend to me, we really complement each other," says Kiplimo. The two men also had a good harvest for their first "rodeo" at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Cheptegei won gold in the 5,000m and silver in the 10,000m, while Kiplimo won bronze in the 10,000m.
Despite their "competition" on the track, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo are not letting the stakes hold them back. After all, every time they step on the track, it is the Ugandan flag that shines on both of their bibs.