Q&A WITH… OSCAR CHELIMO

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Country: Uganda

Profession: Athlete – 5000m

Career highlights:

  • 2022 World Championships 5000m bronze medallist
  • 2020 Olympic finalist
  • 2019 African Games 5000m finalist
  • 2018 Summer Youth Olympics 3000m bronze medallist  

Congratulations on your World Championship performance! You came from the back of the field to win bronze – can you tell us what went through your mind as you came off that last bend?

At that moment I was just thinking about closing the gap! I was telling myself to run my own race and not worry about the competition or how the others are running. So, I pushed my energy to the maximum and kept going until I passed most of the guys who were ahead of me. 

What is the last thing you do before you walk on to the track to race?

I always tell myself that I qualified and deserve to be there; I am champion, and I don’t fear another athlete. My competitors are also all champions in their own right and we are all capable, so we’ll just have to see what happens when the race starts. Then I pray to God to lead me in my race.

Can you describe one of the toughest training sessions you have done?

The toughest training period for me was at the start of July, while preparing for the World Champs in Oregon. I even thought to myself “does coach want to kill me; will I survive this?”. There was a lot of work on the technique of my start, splits and finish. I realised afterwards that he gave me a good program that made me a medal contender.

Uganda is a country with such a diverse landscape – what is your favourite place to go visit?

I haven’t travelled much in Uganda, I’m usually in Kampala or the Sebei Region (Kapchorwa). I love being in Kapchorwa because it is a beautiful place to train, and after training I get to relax and sometimes take a walk with my friends.  

What is the strangest (or most interesting) thing that has happened to you in your travels around the world?

It is always nice to see different environments. One thing I always find interesting are the buildings and I always hope I will also have a fancy building one day. I really enjoyed being in Tokyo for the Olympics, there was beautiful scenery and buildings.

How would you describe a perfect day for you?

As an athlete, a perfect day for me is when I train and compete without any problems or injuries. Running is my professions so days when I don’t train well aren’t so good. I always feel great when I train well and enjoy my sessions.

What is one thing people may not know about you?

One thing people don’t know about me is that I’m a good singer. I won a singing competition in primary school and our team always had the best songs at sport competitions.

If you could choose to be good at another sport, what would it be and why?

I think I would stick to athletics, haha. In athletics you just need to run, but in other sports like football you need a ball and a team.

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