VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) – Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei smashed the men’s 10,000 metres world record and Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey demolished the women’s 5,000 metres mark as the Valencia World Record Day event lived up to its name on Wednesday.
Cheptegei crossed the line at a near-empty Turia stadium in a stunning 26 minutes 11.02 seconds to beat the time of 26:17:53 set in 2005 by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele by over six seconds.
The achievement capped an outstanding 12 months for Cheptegei, 24, who won the gold medal in the 10,000 at last year’s World Championships in Doha, and in August took Bekele’s 5,000m record at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
Last December, also in Valencia, Cheptegei smashed a decade-long record in 10km road racing 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 Gidey, 22 broke the women’s 5,000 metres world record by more than four seconds, crossing the line in 14 minutes 6.62 seconds.
Gidey easily beat the previous record of 14:11.15 set by her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba in Oslo in 2008.
“This is a longtime dream for me, I’m very happy, this is very big for me,” said Gidey.
The event was organised 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.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)