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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

 
+15 #1 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-12 18:32
What a way to celebrate the golden anniversary of quasi Independence! Stephen Kiprotich wins the hardest endurance race and brings home the gold.

Steve Kiprotich is a national hero.
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+13 #2 Stephen 2012-08-12 18:42
Kiprotick, u have made us very proud. Thank you very much for upholding Uganda. God bless you and Uganda as a nation
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+9 #3 Ocaya pOcure 2012-08-12 18:49
Fellow Ugandans it is second Gold Medal for Uganda,
First, I think the Olympic Gold by Ndugu Kiprotich Stephen had got the Olympic Sport Medal since 1972 when the late Akii Bua John (RIP) did it in the Munich Olympic Sport in Germany that year.

I belief, let us Ugandans congratulate this Ugandan brother and I wish him the best in the future. I saw in TV screen how he had charged his battery when it was 5 Kilometres to go leaving the Kenyans behind completely.

Lastly, I really love Marathon race because that is how one use his resiliency at running with pride and win with complete great honour. It has been quite exhilarating seeing Uganda again at the Olympic map just like it was in 1972 when the late Akii Bua John (RIP) made Ugandans quite proud at the time!


OCAYA pOcure
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+4 #4 julius 2012-08-12 19:13
AM VERY HAPPY FINALLY
THIS IS A LESSON THAT UGANDANS LACK TRAINING & INVESTMENT
LET US INVEST IN SPORTS
CONGS Kiprotich
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+9 #5 Job 2012-08-12 20:00
Congs Bwana Kiprotich to putting Uganda on radar again after that 40 years! At least, you have changed the face of Uganda as compared to...

As a Ugandan who is here in London, your win just made me to shade tears of joy and am head high now to say: For God and My Country. As Ugandans, we should drop the issue of politics aside in order to celebrate this Golden Jubilee with "This Gold Medal", he has won for us as a Country.

My brother and fellow Ugandans God bless us all.
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+10 #6 Bidong 2012-08-12 20:35
At about midday here in Kampala, Pastor Sserwadda prayed for an Olympic Gold medal for Uganda... I told the person I was with that it will come to pass in 2016... Little did I expect that it was about 3 hours away.. The power of prayers!!!

We should as a country turn to God through prayers because everything else seems to have failed.
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+4 #7 Kiggundu 2012-08-12 21:56
I don't know about you, but i can't wait to hear that speech from the Government thanking Kiprotich for putting Uganda on the International scene. Shame upon Uganda's Government!
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+4 #8 huh ! 2012-08-12 22:25
First and fore mostly congratulations to Mr. Kiprotich. This is testament that if and when Ugandan sports is taken seriously, and our youth are funded they can compete with the best in the world. Lets thank this man for his perseverance. Uganda can finally get a sweet headline in the New papers that's not Ebola, Kony, HIV, gay bashing, or government corruption. This is the kind of news we need.
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+5 #9 huh ! 2012-08-12 22:28
Whats ironic is the man run 26 miles, Museveni has been in power 26 years. We are still running our marathon and we can overcome NRM's bad governance. Lets keep our eye on the target.
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+7 #10 AMON TUMURAMYE 2012-08-12 22:51
WOLOLO.....WE WON!!
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+6 #11 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-12 23:08
Quoting huh !:
Whats ironic is the man run 26 miles, Museveni has been in power 26 years.


The real irony is Stephen Kiprotich ran a road race to victory; Museveni is on a treadmill. Don't put Kiprotich's Olympic gold around Museveni's neck. Give a little credit to Kiprotich's Italian coach Renato and Kenya where he trained.
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+2 #12 Deb 2012-08-13 00:32
Dear Uganda...see, it's possible. Time to get your team ready for the 2014 World Cup. Be inspired by your pioneer.
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+2 #13 Nalugya 2012-08-13 00:48
Well done Kiprotich! You have made us proud! Keep up the good work!
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+1 #14 Baale 2012-08-13 02:09
Dear Stephen Kiprotich conglaculations .

You have made us proud. Good bless you. God bless our lovely country Uganda.
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+2 #15 huh ! 2012-08-13 02:38
I am with you Betty. The irony was so temptingly unavoidable ! Well done to the young chap !
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+4 #16 CARLOS CORREA 2012-08-13 04:28
Queridos hermanos ugandeses, felicitaciones! .

Les pido que protejan a sus deportistas, son héroes, no los hagan parte de la política.

su hermano colombiano.

CARLOS HERNAN CORREA GOMEZ


Dear fellow Ugandans, congratulations !.

I ask them to protect their athletes are heroes, not make them part of the policy.

Colombian brother.

HERNAN CORREA CARLOS GOMEZ
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+5 #17 Geoff Walker 2012-08-13 05:23
What a fantastic effort for all of Uganda to embrace and celebrate. Let it inspire each of you to do what you think you cannot!!

Your success has even made news down here in New Zealand and I am looking forward to visiting your country in November!!
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+3 #18 Ptrsn 2012-08-13 07:15
Thank you so much Mr. Kiprotich, you were one soldier fighting for a country & indeed you defended your people. God bless u & God bless Uganda.
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+6 #19 Joseph 2012-08-13 08:18
A sporting victory is a time of cerebration. Mr Kiprotich's victory will be engraved in our collective memory for ever!
Victories on the world stage do not come cheap and we must be grateful to the parents and other people who have helped Mr Kiprotich.

Sports development must be a national undertaking. Sports activities should be funded from national coffers. Each of the gold medals won by the UK, for example, has cost them a minimum of $8m over the last four years!

They can quantify these sums because they paid training allowances and salaries to their sports people and to the facilitators on a full time basis. We can afford proper training facilities for,and facilitation of our sports people if we get our priorities right. We shall then celebrate more than one gold medal a time.
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+9 #20 Dave 2012-08-13 09:26
At a time when Uganda has had little to contribute to the world except scandal after scandal in unbridled corruption, Kiprotich you have risen above the odds and shown us what it means to be a real Ugandan!

God bless you for showing us there is hope for Uganda after all! The corporates are fundraising for Kiprotich (something they should have done BEFORE the games for all the athletes!) and all those in favour of that money NOT being taxed please like this status!
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