Steven Kiprotich ended the wait on Sunday afternoon after winning a gold medal in marathon in the London Olympics. Kiprotich, who finished third in the Tokyo Marathon early this year, broke away from two Kenyan rivals to win the men's marathon near Buckingham Palace.
Kiprotich, who finished third in the Tokyo Marathon early this year, broke away from two Kenyan rivals Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, to win the men's marathon near Buckingham Palace in two hours, eight minutes and eleven seconds.
After running side by side with world champion Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang, the 23-year-old put in a powerful kick to shake off the Kenyans. It was Uganda’s first medal at the 2012 Olympics and first Olympic gold after 40 years. Akii Bua won the country’s only other Olympic gold in 400m hurdles in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The victory has sent Ugandans into celebrations.
All 15 Ugandan athletes had fallen by the way side in other events like badminton, swimming, weightlifting and track and field events, but Kiprotich who arrived in London last Wednesday after training in Kenya made Ugandans proud.
The Minister for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi who was in London to cheer the team before flying back on Friday, told Uganda Radio Network on Sunday evening that he was very happy that after many years of trying Uganda has won a medal. He was quick to take some of the limelight, saying that this gold medal has come when he is in-charge of sports.
Ambrose Tashobya, chairman of the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association (FUBA) and also a member of the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) was equally a happy man describing Kiprotich’s victory as one of the best things to happen to the country this year.
Another ardent sports follower Prossy Nalubwama was all praises for athletes in Uganda who she said have always worked hard despite the low funding. She said medals can be won if the government invests in sports.
Uganda last won an Olympics medal in 1996 when Davis Kamoga snatched bronze at the Atlanta Olympics.
Viola Paulynn Akuma, another sports fan in Kampala, described Kiprotich’s feat as a very sweet moment for the country because it gives other sportsmen and women confidence to work even harder. She said Uganda should reward Kiprotich well enough to entice other athletes to work hard.
When Akii-Bua won gold in 1972, the then president Iddi Amin Dada rewarded him with a promotion in the police force and a house in Kololo, Kampala. A road in Kampala and a stadium in Lira were also named after him. He died in 1997 aged 55 years.