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Ruiter speaks of Cheptegei’s chances of breaking world records again

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The man who beat the light:

by Reemus Fernando

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei completed a remarkable double this month as he broke Kenenisa Bekele’s long-held track world record in the 10,000 metres to follow up his 5,000 metres record established in August. When he set records in the two longest track events Cheptegei also beat a series of flashing lights which raced behind him from start to finish along the edge of the inner track. Wavelight technology, a system of flashing lights that helps runners keep pace with record times, was used this year in track events. However, Addy Ruiter, whose coaching brains supported Cheptegei’s record breaking efforts believes that new technology is especially helpful for the spectators and the viewers at home than runners. He said this in an interview with The Island a few days after Cheptegei returned from the World Half Marathon in Poland.

“In Monaco (where he broke the 5000 metres world record) Joshua never saw the light. After 3200 metres the light was behind him. In Valencia he was using the light in the second part of the race, but I don’t believe that the lights are helping a lot. We saw this season already enough races where athletes couldn’t follow the lights. The lights are helpful to the spectators and the (TV) viewers at home,” said the Dutchman, whose charge has now established himself as the dominant distance runner of his generation.

In August Cheptegei slashed nearly two seconds off the 2004 world record of Bekele in creating the new 5,000 metres mark (12:35.36 secs) and on October 7 clocked 26:11.00 seconds to take 6.53 seconds off the Ethiopian’s 10,000 metres world record established in 2005.

“I started coaching Joshua five years ago. Joshua and Global Sports Communication gave me the opportunity to build up his career step by step according to my vision. It is great to see as a coach when he achieves this kind of performances.”

With back-to-back world records against his name, Cheptegei was expected to carry his success on the track to road events by winning the World Half Marathon, which was held in Poland last week. He was placed fourth.

Ruiter said: “In March, he was perfectly prepared for the World Half Marathon but they postponed it. This time around, he was only prepared for the 5,000 and 10,000 metres World Records attempts. During the last period, we didn’t do long runs. By the race day in Poland he had also not totally recovered from the effort put in to Valencia (10,000metres record) and his endurance part was not good enough for such an effort. But it was important for Joshua to represent his country,”

Cheptegei first won at international level when he clinched the World U20 Championships 10,000 metres title in 2014 as a 17-year-old. A double gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships, Olympic titles are the only laurels not in the 24-year-old’s possession. Ruiter said that periodization of Cheptegei’s preparation was different than what athletes normally did but they would not be revealed until at least 2024.

With the Olympics postponed to 2021 will he be attempting another record performance in Tokyo?

“In Tokyo, you are only running for the medals and the time is totally not important. When there is a possibility in 2021, then Joshua will try to break his own World Records.”

Covid 19 pandemic has impacted many athletes adversely. Asked for comment on how the pandemic had affected him and your trainee he had this to say:

“It was and is of course a difficult time for everyone. For most athletes there were no possibilities to run races. For the training it was very helpful. The athlete was still motivated because it gave us the possibility to train without interruptions of races.”

Ruiter has some 20 Uganda athletes, 15 in Kapchorwa and five in Kampala training under his guidance. Halimah Nakaayi, who won the 800 metres title at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, is also trained by him.

Ruiter has visited many countries and it was his love for traveling that has helped him take an easy decision to be in Uganda to coach their athletes.

“I did a lot of traveling in my life and have visited 98 countries. So I’m used to it and not to being in the Netherlands and to be in other cultures. So, when they did ask me for this job, I did not have to think about it twice.”

With the World Records now under Cheptegei’s belt what would be the plan Ruiter has now for his champion athlete?

“With the pandemic, that is a difficult question to answer. We hope that Joshua is having the opportunity to break his own World Records in the 5,000 and 10.000 metres but most important thing is trying to win the double at the Olympic Games.”



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Ahinsa becomes youngest medallist at Commonwealth Games  

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Eighteen-year-old Nethmi Ahinsa from little known Indiminna, Pannala became Sri Lanka’s youngest medallist at the Commonwealth Games as she beat Australia’s Irene Symeonidis in the 57kg weight class to win a bronze medal in wrestling in Birmingham on Friday.  She also became the country’s first medallist in the not so popular sport as she beat her Australian counterpart 10-0 in the freestyle event in the bronze medal fight.

She had to settle for the bronze medal after being eliminated by Indian Anshu Malik in the semi-final bought.   The wrestler from Welpalla Maha Vidyalaya advanced to the semi-final with a 10-0 victory over 34 year-old Cameroon athlete Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako. She hails from a family of four children.

Following her victory, she thanked her parents for allowing her to engage in the sport and expressed her gratitude to T.S. Suranga Kumara who not only trained her but also looked after her providing nutrition and other needs.

She said that there had been so many stories and even films on how coaches go out of their way to help their athletes achieve success but her coach was a living example of such a story.

She took to wrestling after her friend Chamodya Keshani invited her to join training in 2018. Incidentally, Keshani too competed at the Commonwealth Games in the 53kgs weight class.

She said that she did not have a wrestling mattress when she first began training but later received the support of the national federation to obtain one. After doing well at recent junior events she had also received the support of Crysbro for nutrition and also trained abroad after National Olympic Committee identified her talent.

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Georgia Baker lands third gold of Games in road race

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Australia’s Georgia Baker claimed her third gold medal of the Commonwealth Games with victory in the road race in Warwick.The Australian team were well placed in the run in for a bunch sprint and gave Baker, who won gold on the track in the points race and team pursuit, the perfect lead out for her to come out on top in a time of two hours 44 minutes and 46 seconds.

Scotland’s Neah Evans finished strongly but the line came too soon and she had to settle for silver with Baker’s compatriot Sarah Roy taking bronze, with the leading 24 riders all finishing on the same time.Baker was quick to pay tribute to her team-mates after the Australian train helped set up the victory.

Baker said: “This one is extra special. It was a real team effort.

“I wish I could split this medal into six, it was real credit to the team and I’m glad I could pull it off for them.

“There was a little bit of pressure coming in but we also knew we had one of the strongest teams here. The girls did an amazing job covering all the moves.

“For them to nail the final lead out made my ride so easy. I finished with fresh legs and that was the goal. I did the sprint and got my hands across the line.

“From the start of the race it was, if the race went the way we wanted. If it was going to be a bunch sprint I would be sprinting, if it was going to be an aggressive and hard race where the other nations were going to make it super hard, then potentially Alex [Manly] would be sprinting.

“We made the call out there with about 20km to go and I was feeling good so we stuck to the plan and the girls [the Australia cyclists] led me out beautifully.”

Scotland went into the race with just two riders instead of the maximum allowed six riders per team and Evans set the tactic was to keep the workload low and cover any moves from the favourites.

She said: “We knew there were a few big, strong teams here, so the plan was to just try and follow any moves and don’t actually do any work.

“Then, if it came to a bunch sprint, we would do what we could (and) wing it. It worked pretty well.”

Evans has won two silvers and a bronze, but added: “I will have to come back in four years as there is one missing that I really want to try and get. But it has been a brilliant Games for me.” (www.birmingham2022.com)

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Isipatana hang on to down Joes 16-13

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by a Special Sports Correspondent

Isipatana College did well to overcome stiff resistance from St. Joseph’s College and record an exciting 16-13 win in the second match of the ‘Super Round’ Inter-school under 19 league rugby tournament match worked off at Havelock Park yesterday.Isipatana taking a comfortable 7-0 lead at the ‘breather’ suddenly found the going tough when the Josephians came back strongly with an improved performance in the second half.

It was all happening for both teams in the second half. Isipatana were made to sweat in the second half because of two yellow cards to their players and Joes earning a try, a conversion and two penalties to boost their score. The Josephians too had a yellow card shown to one of its players in the first half.But if there was one player who stood strong like a wall for Isipatana it was winger Rinesh Silva who handled kicking duties with the accuracy of a professional. He slotted in three well-taken penalties in the second half and kept the score board ticking for Ispatana.

Joes produced the scares for Isipatana seven minutes from the end when number eight Naveen Marasinghe crashed in for a try. Ruchira Rodrigo slotted in the conversion, but the Joes were foiled there onwards by a determined Isipatana defence.The game was forced to a ten minute stoppage in the first half due to the absence of an ambulance on the field. At the time of the interruption to the game both ambulances hired for the game were busy taking two injured Josephians to hospital. Referee Yatawara came in for much praise for looking into player safety and being adamant that an ambulance must be present at the match venue for the game to continue.

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