“I’m still surprised why Mo Farah is not part of the field … It’s really ridiculous that he’s not on the field.”
By Robert Johnson
October 16, 2020
At today’s pre-race press conference for tomorrow’s World Athletics Half Marathon Championships – the first running world championships since the COVID-19 outbreak – the featured man was evident Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, which recently broke both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter world records. Cheptegei goes into tomorrow’s race as the favorite, although it is the first half marathon of his career.
At today’s press conference, when Cheptegei was asked how important it is for him to come out of this season with a big title, he took the opportunity to shoot Britain’s four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah, who skipped the event even though he was in good shape on the half-marathon distance in early September.
“I think crowning the season with a title and crowning it would of course be something special for me, something I would be really grateful for. First the debut, then the win [would be] really amazing, “said Cheptegei before adding,” I thought we had a more exciting field. Of course we have the Kenyans, we have the Ethiopians, but I was still surprised – and I am still surprised – why Mo Farah is not part of the field … It’s really ridiculous that he is not on the field. ”
Quick Take: I love this quote from Cheptegei
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It has been said that one of the reasons athletics struggles for popularity is because there isn’t enough big rivalry. What is our sports version of Nadal vs. Federer? Yes, in the past, Coe vs. Ovett and Lewis vs. Powell fascinates the fans, but we need modern rivalries. Cheptegei calls Farah, adding to a new rivalry.
And Cheptegei is right here with his criticism of Farah. The reality is that Farah set a world record for the hour-long run just over a month ago. He ran 21,330 meters in an hour and showed that he was in 59-low half marathon form. Why shouldn’t he extend his season for another month and compete against the best in the world?
Probably because there isn’t much financial incentive for him and he knew he probably wasn’t going to win. But for the sport to grow someone has to find a way to get the athletes to act in more than just their own interests.
I also always thought that we had to promote the African stars as personalities so that distance running would become more popular and that we needed more hype and trash talk before the race. A big part of the fun of all sporting events is the anticipation of the event, and this is especially true when it comes to athletics, as many athletics events don’t employ many fascinating tactics once they start. When Cheptegei Farah calls out, he establishes himself as a personality, creates a rivalry and creates anticipation for when they’ll meet on the track next year. I can’t wait for the race.
Watch Cheptegei call Farah in the video below and talk about his trash conversation on his messageboard.
MB: Cheptegei exclaims Mo Farah for skipping World Half: “It’s really ridiculous that he’s not on the field.”
Full race preview: Women preview & Men’s preview.
Hear Cheptegei talk about Farah at 38:12 below
Cheptegei speaks today about Farah in Poland.
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