For Stephen Kiprotich to defend his Olympics Marathon gold medal, he will need a bigger Ugandan supporting cast at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August.
Kiprotich ended a record eight consecutive World marathon Majors dominance by Kenyan men when he won at 2012 London Olympics. He did it again a year later in Moscow, Russia at the World Athletics Championships.
However, since then, he has not won a single Marathon. And after his recent outing at the Tokyo Marathon where he finished fourth with 2:07:46, he mentioned that Uganda ought to field a bigger contingent of marathoners as a strategy to win.
“Winning a marathon requires a lot of tactics lately. As a country, we need more marathoners at the majors because normally, it is countries with a wider sample size of runners that win. While it may not be me winning always, having numbers plays a big role in spreading your winning chances because you help each other,” Kiprotich said.
As seen at the Tokyo Marathon, Kiprotich was the only Ugandan in the 42km race won by Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa (2:06:56), who led a team of four Ethiopians while Kenyans Bernard Kipyego (2:07:33) and Dickson Chumba (2:07: 34) came second and third respectively from the six Kenyan runners at the event.
“You see, the Kenyans and Ethiopians are always going to plant someone just to knock your legs, gang around you and frustrate you. So, we must qualify more runners,” Kiprotich said.
Solomon Mutai, a bronze medalist at the World Championships in Beijing, China last year, Jackson Kiprop and 2014 Commonwealth games bronze medalist Abraham Kiplimo are expected to team up with Kiprotich at the Olympics.
Kiprotich reasoned that while the Kenyans and Ethiopians were concentrating on him last year at the World Championships, it gave Mutai a good chance to finish third. So, that lays credence to Kiprotich’s views on numbers.
Dominic Etucet, the Uganda Athletics Federation’s boss, agreed with Kiprotich’s concerns, saying that they intend to boost Uganda’s numbers in the long- distance races beginning with the Africa Cross Country Championships in Yaounde on March 12 and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 26.
“Let’s see the performances in Yaounde and Scotland; then we will pick the best depending on time and consistence,” Etuchet said.