2022 Worlds M 10K Preview: Which Superstar Wins Gold & Can Grant Fisher Earn Medal #1?

By Robert Johnson
July 13, 2022

Who is the world’s greatest male distance runner? In the marathon, it’s undoubtedly Eliud Kipchoge.

On the track? That’s up for debate — and it’s one of the questions that might be answered at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene. It wasn’t answered in Tokyo as for the third straight global championship, a different man won the 10,000 and 5,000 titles, perhaps because the Ethiopians weren’t allowed to double. In Tokyo, we got a split verdict as Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega won the 10,000 while Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, who settled for silver in the 10,000, won the 5,000, which Barega didn’t run. In Eugene, both men are expected to double.

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If one of them, or someone else, pulls off the 10,000/5,000 double, we’ll have a new king of the track. Below I preview the first of those two races — the men’s 10,000, which takes place on Sunday at 1 p.m. local (4 p.m. ET).

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Winners of Men’s 5,000 and 10,000 at Last Three Outdoor Global Champs
Year 5,000 10,000
2017 Muktar Edris Mo Farah
2019 Muktar Edris Joshua Cheptegei
2021 Joshua Cheptegei Selemon Barega

Who Might Pull Off The Double?

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, 25, not only won the 5,000 gold and 10,000 silver last year but he’s also the world record holder in both events. Plus he won World XC in 2019 and the 10,000 on the track in 2019. If he hadn’t lost the Olympic 10,000 last year, we’d undoubtedly view him as a modern-day legend like Haile Gebrselassie or Kenenisa Bekele.

Cheptegei used pacing lights to set two world records in 2020 (Photo courtesy NN Running Team)

In Tokyo, after he surprisingly didn’t push the pace in the Olympic 10,000, he revealed preparations were hampered by a tendon injury. Is that why Cheptegei lost the 10,000 (he was closing well but let Barega get too far ahead) or is Barega simply better? We don’t know but we also haven’t seen much from Cheptegei in 2022. This year, he’s got just one track result on his CV — a 12:57.99 ‘win’ at Pre which really was a failure as that race was billed as a WR attempt.

Ethiopia’s Barega, 22, certainly has a claim to the title of world’s best track distance runner. In 2018, at the age of 18, he set a world U20 record in the 5,000 of 12:43.02. Then in 2019, he won World Championships silver in the 5,000. Last year, he won the Olympic 10,000 title thanks to a 53.94 final lap and a 4:01 final 1600 in hot and humid conditions (both the temp and humidity were 80+). Earlier this year, he won World Indoors gold in the 3,000 and heads into World Outdoors after having won the 5,000 in the Paris DL. Yes, he lost the Pre (3rd 13:07.30) and Rome Diamond Leagues (4th 12:54.87) but indoors Barega also lost two races to Lamecha Girma before winning the one that counted the most.

Of course, it’s possible that another man wins double gold in 2022, and if someone not named Cheptegei or Barega pulls it off, it will be 21-year-old Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia. His indoor and outdoor openers this year are two of the greatest openers in the history of the sport. Indoors, in his first race of 2022, he threatened Daniel Komen’s world indoor record at 3k, running 7:26 by himself in Karlsruhe in January. Then he picked up an injury and didn’t race until World Indoors, where he was totally off and didn’t even make the final, but when he returned to action at Pre for his outdoor opener, he once again looked like an all-time talent as he administered one of the biggest beatdowns in Diamond League history, winning by 16+ seconds in 12:50.05 in a race where Barega was third in 13:07.30.

Last year, Aregawi was no slouch either. After finishing 4th in the Olympic 10,000, he won the DL 5,000 title and then finished the year with a 12:49 road world record. Of course, it should be noted that this year, a week after his epic run at Pre, Aregawi was only 3rd in the Ethiopian 10,000 Trials. Was that just because he was content to make the team or is he more of a 5,000 guy? It should be noted that Aregawi was a well-beaten third at World Juniors in the 10,000 in 2018 when Jacob Kiplimo got the silver (27:40 vs. 27:48 for 3rd).

2021 Olympic 10,000 Top 5 Results

1. Selemon Barega Ethiopia 27:43.22
2. Joshua Cheptegei Uganda 27:43.63 SB
3. Jacob Kiplimo Uganda 27:43.88
4. Berihu Aregawi Ethiopia 27:46.16
5. Grant Fisher United States 27:46.39

Other Medal Contenders

Last year at the Olympics, there was a clear top three and the third medalist is also back in 2022 — half marathon world record holder Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda. After running 57:56 at the RAK Half in February, the 21-year-old didn’t race at all until two weeks ago when he showed he can be a factor at Worlds by running 7:29.55 for 3,000 in Stockholm. So he’s in good form and can’t be discounted but I don’t see him pulling off the double as he was only 5th in the 5,000 last year.

American Grant Fisher was the top non-African in last year’s Olympic 10,000 as he was 5th — just 0.23 behind Aregawi (but 3.17 behind Barega).

Grant Fisher ran 12:53 indoors this year

This year, he’s been even better as he ran an American record 12:53.73 indoors in February before running a 26:33.84 American record in March. Recently, he set a meet record of 13:03.86 at USAs in warm conditions. He most definitely could medal. Yes, in between, he lost to Joe Klecker in the 10,000 at USAs, but Fisher is a medal threat; Klecker, who has PRs of 13:04 and 27:23, is not. Don’t tell me otherwise.

I view the five men I’ve talked about already (who are also the top five men from last year’s Olympics) as the most likely medalists, but others deserve mention as medal contenders.

Don’t Ignore These Names

The runner-up at the Ethiopian Trials in Hengelo this year was 20-year-old Tadese Worku, who won world U20 gold in the 3,000 last year and silver in the 5,000. A medal wouldn’t stun me but a gold going to someone with a 13:18 5,000 PR (from 2019) who hasn’t even run on the DL circuit this year would be a big surprise.

There were no Kenyans in the top 6 last year in Tokyo and it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case yet again this year as their team looks weak on paper. The winner of their trials — former half marathon world record holder Kibiwott Kandie — isn’t in the race as he doesn’t have the 27:28 standard and World Athletics doesn’t give an altitude adjustment to his 27:33 win at 6,000 feet. 18 Kenyans have the standard; he beat all of them that ran the trials (not all 18 ran) and he can’t go? That’s crazy. You can listen to me rant about that ridiculousness below.

The runner-up at the Kenyan Trials was 2018 world junior 5000 silver medallist Stanley Waithaka, but the 22-year-old only has a 13:05 5,000 PR (although he did run 13:13 at altitude this year). 23-year-old Daniel Mataiko ran 58:45 for the half this year but only has track PRs of 13:13 (at altitude) and 27:03. 2021 Olympic 7th placer Rodgers Kwemoi is the third member on the team for some reason even though he didn’t run the Kenyan Trials.

Canada’s Moh Ahmed, who has medaled in each of the last two outdoor global 5,000s, was 6th in the Olympic final last year as well as the 2019 Worlds 10,000 and is certainly a medal threat but likely will need to beat his Bowerman Track Club Teammate to get a medal. In March, Ahmed ran a massive 25+ second PR of 26:34.14 and he comes into Worlds after running 12:55 in Rome (5th place).

The Race

Last year at the Olympics, Barega admitted he hoped the pace was slow. The Ugandans said they wanted the pace fast and their compatriot Stephen Kissa (who is entered this year as well) said he went out trying to set a fast pace. But Cheptegei and Kiplimo didn’t go with the pace as they didn’t feel up to the task as it was so hot and humid (81 degrees at start with 81% humidity, dewpoint of 73) even though the race was at night.

So that leads to the obvious question: what’s the weather supposed to be like when the gun fires at 1 p.m. local time on Sunday?

It will be cooler and much less humid than in Tokyo. The temp at race start should be around 72-74 (getting up to 80 degrees three hours later) with the humidity (53%) and dewpoint 56) much better. But the question mark is how much sun will be out as this race will be run in the middle of the day. It’s expected to become totally clear later in the day but be party cloudy in the morning. At 1 p.m., there may still be a few clouds which could help. 72 and sunny isn’t all that much cooler than 81 at night but the 20+ difference in dewpoint will have a massive effect.

If this race was being held at 10 a.m. or 10 p.m., I’d feel more confident that the Ugandans would push the pace, which might hurt Barega. Pushing a relentless pace in the heat isn’t something most distance runners are used to although paradoxically hot weather might hurt the kickers if you actually stick to pushing the pace as the heat makes the race take longer and thus there is more time to break them.

Embed from Getty Images

Prediction time

This is a very hard event to predict. We know for a fact that one of the following people will not medal in this race: the 10,000 world record holder, the half marathon world record holder, the Olympic champ, or a guy who won Pre by 15+ seconds by soloing a 12:50.

My mind still has a hard time comprehending that Joshua Cheptegei won the 5,000 last year but not the 10,000 as the 10,000 was thought to be his best event. If Cheptegei had won this last year or if he’d broken his own WR at Pre this year in the 5,000, he’d be the obvious pick. But since Cheptegei has barely raced this year and he lost to Barega last year and Barega has been racing regularly on the circuit, it’s hard to feel confident in picking Cheptegei. That being said, Cheptegei has done very well on limited races as he just trained his ass off in 2020 and then broke WRs during the pandemic. Plus Cheptegei last year went into Tokyo after finishing 6th in the 5,000 in Florence (12:54.69) but then had a very good Olympics.

LRC Picks: Roll it back from 2021: 1) Barega 2) Cheptegei 3) Kiplimo

Update: I need to change those picks. That was my initial top three, but before the article was published, Jonathan Gault received an email from Cheptegei’s coach Addy Ruiter. We emailed him and asked him why Cheptegei had only raced once this year on the track and how did his fitness compare to last year. Here is what he said:

Joshua need no races to get in shape, like he showed in 2020 when he was running the world records on the 5000m and 10.000m without races in the preparation. And we prefer not to race in the last period before an important tournament. It takes us two days of travel before reaching Europe, because we need an extra day to travel from Kapchorwa, where we are located with our Camp, to Kampala/Entebbe Airport. So four days of travelling for one race and that will cost us more then one week of training in total and that’s not welcome just before an important tournament. 
And because the World Championships are scheduled early this year, there was room for only one competition.
Joshua had a good preparation and is in better shape than before the Tokyo Olympics were the preparation was disturb by a bacterial infection. 
But Joshua also knows that his competitors in the 5000m and 10.000m are stronger this year than last year.
I expect two wonderful finals in Eugene and thankfully with a crowded stadium again.

New Picks: With Cheptegei’s health no longer an issue and a better weather forecast than last year, I think he’s the pick. He was closing the best in the last 100 but seemingly doubted himself before that. He won’t make that mistake this year. 1) Cheptegei 2) Barega 3) Kiplimo

Who wins the men's 10,000 at Worlds?

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Will Grant Fisher medal at Worlds (5k or 10k)?

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PS. Cheptegei and Barega are very evenly matched. According to Tilastopaja, they’ve raced each other 10 times in their careers and each won 5.

Distance Meet Cheptegei Berega
5,000m    Athletissima Lausanne 2017-07-06  12:59.83 (3) 12:55.58 (2)
Cross Country     Sevilla 2018-01-21  30:54 (1) 31:01 (3)
Cross Country    WC Aarhus 2019-03-30  31:40 (1) 32:16 (5)
5,000m    Diamond Shanghai 2019-05-18  13:06.68 (7) 13:04.71 (2)
3,000m    BislettG Oslo 2019-06-13  7:33.26 (2) 7:32.17 (1)
Two Miles    Pre Stanford CA 2019-06-30  8:07.54 (1) 8:08.69 (3)
5,000m    Athletissima Lausanne 2019-07-05  13:03.59 (4) 13:01.99 (2)
5,000m    WK Zürich 2019-08-29  12:57.41 (1) 12:59.66 (5)
10,000m    OG Tokyo 2021-07-30  27:43.63 (2) 27:43.22 (1)
Two Miles    Pre Eugene OR 2021-08-21  8:09.55 (1) 8:09.82 (2)

Entrants

Athlete Country PB SB World Ranking
Grant FISHER USA 26:33.84 26:33.84 4
Mohammed AHMED CAN 26:34.14 26:34.14 6
Selemon BAREGA ETH 26:44.73 26:44.73 2
Tadese WORKU ETH 26:45.91 26:45.91 10
Berihu AREGAWI ETH 26:46.13 26:46.13 5
Milkesa MENGESHA ETH 27:00.24 27:00.24 52
Jack RAYNER AUS 27:15.35 27:15.35 48
Sean MCGORTY USA 27:18.15 27:18.15 75
Habtom SAMUEL ERI 27:20.08 27:20.08 65
Patrick DEVER GBR 27:23.88 27:23.88 30
Jimmy GRESSIER FRA 27:24.51 27:24.51
Egide NTAKARUTIMANA BDI 27:24.59 27:24.59
Shadrack KIPCHIRCHIR USA 27:07.55 27:24.93 100
Rodgers KWEMOI KEN 26:55.36 27:25.17 8
Rodrigue KWIZERA BDI 27:25.47 27:25.47 15
Stanley Waithaka MBURU KEN 27:13.01 27:34.01 35
Daniel MATEIKO KEN 27:03.94 27:34.62 23
Carlos MAYO ESP 27:25.00 27:38.59 13
Tatsuhiko ITO JPN 27:25.73 27:42.48 14
Zouhair TALBI MAR 27:20.61 27:49.08 26
Ren TAZAWA JPN 27:23.44 28:06.34 22
Joe KLECKER USA 27:23.44 28:28.71 43
Joshua CHEPTEGEI UGA 26:11.00 NA
Jacob KIPLIMO UGA 26:33.93 NA
Birhanu BALEW BRN 27:07.49 NA
Isaac KIMELI BEL 27:22.70 NA

LetsRun.com is the home of running and the sport’s front page. Come back every day as we’ll be previewing all of the distance events and then covering them extensively from Eugene.

Counting Down the 10 Most Exciting Stories at the 2022 World Championships Can Grant Fisher medal? Can Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce win global titles 14 years apart? And how about a Noah LylesErriyon Knighton rematch? Worlds is going to be sick.
*MB: It’s less than 10 days to 2022 Worlds. Here are JG’s top 10 storylines. What events are you most into?

*Complete Event-by-Event Previews *Complete 2022 World Outdoor Coverage

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