By today afternoon, even the most optimistic Ugandans were mourning a disastrous Olympic campaign in London. Uganda as an Olympic sporting country was all but dead.

The epitaph appeared to have been written the previous day, when Moses Kipsiro failed miserably in the 5,000m – reportedly his favourite race.

In a bid to protect themselves from the now all-too-familiar disappointment, many Ugandans resisted the temptation to dream that one of our athletes would as much as be in contention for a respectable-place finish in yesterday’s marathon. At the offices of this newspaper, some pessimists (who can blame them?) were today morning counting the famous countries that were leaving this year’s Olympics without even threatening to win a medal – Nigeria, Israel, Ghana, Chilea, DR Congo, Libya, Sri-Lanka, Zambia, Zimbabwe – and Uganda.

As for today’s race, everyone agreed the contest for medals was going to be Ethiopians and Kenyans. Unknown to us – and to the world – one man would soon change that. Stephen Kiprotich had totally different ideas.

In a feat now already etched in Uganda’s sporting history, an achievement that will be talked about for generations to come, a success that catapulted an entire nation from a dead silence to the highest scales of ecstasy, Stephen Kiprotich ran the race of his life to win GOLD in the marathon on the closing day of the London 2012 Olympics.

The reaction was indescribable. In London, the best-selling Sun newspaper spoke of a shock win for the 23-year-old Ugandan. For many, it was disbelief. A few managed to get excited. Then it was ululation.

And disbelief again – what if he will be disqualified for something?

And then, it all started to sink in. Uganda was the Olympic marathon champion. For the first time since John Akii Bua stormed the big stage by winning the 400 metre hurdles in Munich in 1972, Stephen Kiprotich had run a race many Ugandan athletes dream of, but only a few ever run – a race of Olympic gold.

On a day remarkable for its summer heat, Kiprotich proved the hottest man in the pack. He won in 2hours 8mins 1secs. It is said that to be the best, you have to beat not just the rest, but you have to be ready to better the best. Kiprotich relegated two-time world champion Abel Kirui to second place, the Kenyan staggering home in 2:08.27 – and apparent disbelief. Fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang had to settle for third place.

Kiprotich had been among the top three until the closing stages, when he surged into the lead – a lead that he refused to surrender. Having trained in Kenya’s Eldoret valley, Kiprotich must have made the Kenyans feel like they were in charge.  But if they ever felt in charge, he emerged – literally from nowhere – to show who was in charge.

He was. so comfortable was Kiprotich in the final stretch that he stopped to get that one thing that was high on his mind, that one thing that defines him, something to tell how proud he was of where he comes from – he grabbed the Uganda Flag and raced with it to the finishing line. It may have been our only medal, but Uganda was once again high up there with the best, on top of the Olympic world.

“Since 1972 Uganda has not won a gold medal so we’re very happy,” Kiprotich told journalists after his memorable feat – a feat that will be talked about for generations to come.

Yes, we are very happy.



Comments

0 #21 BISHOP 2012-08-13 10:16
Am proud of you ARAPCHEMANDWA
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+2 #22 Musa ssenge 2012-08-13 10:42
We are blessed to be part and witnesses of this heroic moment in our country's history. Kiprotich, we are proud of you.
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0 #23 mwami 2012-08-13 10:44
Its in Uganda that a father will want to sit at the high table of his graduating son even when he hasn't contributed a penny or moral support to his education. PROUD TO BE A UGANDAN!!!!!!!
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+4 #24 Musa ssenge 2012-08-13 10:45
I am proud to be part and a witness of this historic triumph for Uganda. Kiprotich, we are proud of you
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+1 #25 Jane 2012-08-13 14:36
Congratulations are in order here. Well done Kiprotich! You have done it through sheer determination and hard work.

Keep it up as you have successfully broken the stranglehold the Kenyans and Ethiopians on this sport.
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+2 #26 Kemirembe 2012-08-13 19:06
President Museveni is going to give Kiprotich a District since it is the only thing he can generously give.
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+5 #27 nusnaki 2012-08-13 20:06
How I wish Uganda could celebrate the golden boy without the dictator and his cronnies!!!Tuvi ire Museveni ffe to claim and celebrate our boy!!Stay away from our celebrations!!! !!
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0 #28 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-13 20:26
Quoting Jane:
...you have successfully broken the stranglehold the Kenyans and Ethiopians on this sport.


Kiprotich has a debt of gratitude to Kenyans for the fast pace in spite of summer heat and Kenya for the training.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
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+1 #29 SENDEGE RAPPORT 2012-08-13 22:33
WE REALLY FEEL KIPROTICK YOU DESERVE TO BE HONOURERD!
CONGS AND CONGS FOREVER.

MAY YOU BE THE BEGINING OF MORE AND MORE MEDALS LIKE KIPSRO.
GOD BLESS UGANDA and UGANDANS .
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0 #30 nusnaki 2012-08-14 00:14
Quoting Kemirembe:
President Museveni is going to give Kiprotich a District since it is the only thing he can generously give.


LOL!!
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0 #31 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-14 00:31
Quoting SENDEGE RAPPORT:
WE REALLY FEEL KIPROTICK YOU DESERVE TO BE HONOURERD!
AGREED!

Germans have the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin and the French have the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Kiprotick needs to lead youth through the streets of Kampala in a victory run. The Fat Cats can watch.
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+2 #32 huh ! 2012-08-14 04:06
Betty Kiprotich may be met with tear gas. They may confuse his rally for Walk to walk. Maybe in this case he runs for a living.
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+1 #33 Herbert 2012-08-14 07:09
Wow, how I curse my state of apathy then (to the extent of not bothering to watch!!!!!) Did you say he even got time to grab our flag in the final dash to victory?

What selfless patriotism! If I were on the committee allocating medals for heroism, this would be my choice! The man thinks of Uganda instinctively!! !
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0 #34 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-14 14:36
Quoting Herbert:
What selfless patriotism! ...The man thinks of Uganda instinctively!!!


Got that right, Herbert. KIPROTICK passed the Kenyans and had no idea how fast they would be breathing down his neck. The difference between gold and silver was only 26 seconds.

btw, give a little credit to the guy ready with the flag. Someone knew history was in the making.

A victory run of youth through the streets of Kampala on Independence Day led by Stephen KIPROTICK is a fitting tribute to the future of Uganda. Ugandan youth don't walk; they run!
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+1 #35 Kemirembe 2012-08-14 15:46
Thank God! For the last 40 years, we have been yearning for one thing that we all can join in and cerebrate.

Thak you Kiprotich!!
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0 #36 Kemirembe 2012-08-14 16:34
The Mafia Government has again hijacked our celebration with Kiprotich. According to the Mafia group's program at State House Entebbe, Instead of allowing Kiprotich to celebrate with Ugandans from Entebbe to Kampala

They are locking him into one of the Hotels in Entebbe in the morning as soon as he arrives, to wait for State Dinner in the evening. Who told you he went to london so that he can drink bu Chai at State House. Shame on you!!
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0 #37 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-14 17:48
Quoting Kemirembe:
The Mafia Government has again hijacked our celebration with Kiprotich.


Talk to the Kabaka. There is more than one tea cup in Uganda for Stephen KIPROTICK to enjoy chai.

Organize a marathon race on Independence Day. Open the race to international competition with a special invitation to Kenya. Every runner who registers gets a free tee-shirt.
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