By Henry D Gombya in London
Stephen Kiprotich, a 23-year old school drop-out is leaving London this week as the man who has restored Uganda’s pride and dignity after becoming the first person since the 1996 Atlanta Games to win the country a medal and the first one since 1972 to return home with a gold medal.
The boy from Kapchorwa in Eastern Uganda beat all odds (photo above) and cost betting companies here a fortune when he beat a more distinguished and famous bunch of marathon runners to snatch a gold medal in front of tens of thousands of Londoners who kept mistaking him for being a Kenyan.
All bets had been on a Kenyan runner winning this year’s Olympic Games marathon with Ethiopians highly expected to give the Kenyans a run for their money. While Uganda’s Kiprotich (Kenya had one too) was among the know runners announced by the games organisers, the Ugandan was not mentioned in the same way as his counterparts.
I watched in awe as the Ugandan slowly but surely made his way to the top of the front pack making it difficult for announcers on both radio and TV distinguish between him and his Kenyan training colleagues Abel Kirui (silver 2:8:27)) and Wilson Kiprotich (2:9:37) I have scoured through thousands of words written about who was expected to win this marathon but the name of Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda appears nowhere.
Before the games, Kenyan Marathon runner Emmanuel Mutai had said: “We have two things to do here in London. We have got to retain the title of the late Samuel Wanjiru (who died after a fall from a second floor balcony during a domestic dispute last year). I personally want to make sure that I run [well]. The most important thing is we need to retain the title.”