The last time Moses Kipsiro and I crossed paths in April 2009, I told him that he "has what it takes to go as far as he wants; it was simply a case of his level of commitment and how he utilises it."
At the time, the sports press (Uspa) had just crowned him the country’s top sports personality for 2008 and it seemed like the right thing to say following his fourth-place finish in the 5,000 metres at the Beijing Olympics.
Before then, he had won the 2007 Uspa top award on the back of a bronze at the Osaka World Championships.
Last Thursday, Kipsiro erased the ‘nearly-man’ tag after beating a competitive field to win the Commonwealth title over the same distance proved what many have stated; that the 24 year-old has all the tools necessary to rise to the top.
That said, there is need for caution before any Kipsiro anointment because much as the race provided a scintillating finish as he went toe to toe with Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge in the last 200 metres, the field lacked real contenders to the throne. So he is still yet to answer the ‘lack of final kick’ question.
Such as it is, Kipsiro has showed a vast improvement in dealing with the Kenyan teamwork, although his winning time of 13:31.25 is 35 seconds behind the 2006 winning mark and a further six behind his personal best.
And then again, we have to look closely at the competition in the 5000m elite; things get a bit more intricate.
Kipchoge is a great runner and one of the few people to beat legends Hicham El Guerrouj of Tunisia and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele when he won the distance at the 2003 World Championships. But like Kipsiro, he’s always had to settle for second best behind Bekele at major championships.
Another Ethiopian, Silehi Sihine, who frequently plays the supporting role to Bekele, is a good tactician, but again, fundamentally, he can be exploited without his countryman.
Then factor in American 2007 World Champion Bernard Lagat; he has one of the best final kicks but can be outsmarted because he prefers slow races. Bekele? Now that’s where the true questions begin.
He is the ultimate scalp here, for not only does he possess the speed and fundamentals, he also knows how to defend against Kenyans and has the toughness to bully everyone into fighting for second place.
Honestly, Kipsiro has every chance to become a better runner but the fact that he’s never beaten Bekele, it’s a no contest.
Meanwhile, Kipsiro embarks on a rare double when he lines up in the 10,000m final on Tuesday. Perhaps the same way the absence of Ethiopians helped him to the 5,000m gold, the hope is that he will improve on his second-place finish at the African Championships a few months ago.
Uganda's medal winners at Commonwealth games
- 2010 Gold: Moses Kipsiro(5,000m), Moses Kipsiro (10,000m)
- 2006 Gold: Dorcus Inzikuru (Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase), Boniface Kiprop (Men’s 10,000m).
- Bronze: Martin Mubiru (Flyweight)
- 2002 Silver: Joseph Lubega (Light Heavyweight), Mohammed Kayongo (Light Welterweight)
- 1998 Bronze: Jackson Asiku (Flyweight)
- 1994 Silver: Fred Mutuweta (Bantamweight), Charles Kizza (Heavyweight)
- 1990 Gold: Justin Juuko (Light Flyweight), Godfrey Nyakana (Lightweight)
- Bronze: Charles Matata (Middleweight), Joseph Abdu Kaddu (Light Heavyweight)
- 1986 Uganda was among the 32 nations that boycotted because of their opposition to apartheid in sports.
- 1982 Silver: Ruth Kyalisima (400m hurdles), Peter Rwamuhanda (400m hurdles), Victor Byarugaba (Light Heavyweight)
- 1978 Uganda didn’t participate
- 1974 Gold: Ayub Kalule (Lightweight), Mohamed Muruli (Welterweight)
- Silver: Silver Ayoo (400m hurdles), James Odwori (Light Flyweight), Ali Rojo (Bantamweight), Shadrack Odhiambo (Featherweight)
- Bronze: Pius Olowu, Samuel Kakonge, Silver Ayoo, William Santino Dralu (4x400m), Benson Masanda (Heavyweight), John Byaruhanga (Flyweight)
- 1970 Gold: James Odwori (Light Flyweight), Mohamed Muruli (Light Welterweight), Benson Masanda (Heavyweight)
- Silver: Leo Rwabwogo (Flyweight), Deogratias Musoke (Featherweight), William Koskei (400m hurdles)
- 1966 Bronze: Alex Odhiambo (Light Welterweight), Mathias Ouma (Middleweight), Benson Ocan (Heavyweight)
- 1962 Gold: George Oywello (Heavyweight),
- Silver: Kesi Odongo (Lightweight)
- Bronze: John Sentongo (Bantamweight), Francis Nyangweso (Light Middleweight), Amos Omolo (400m), Benson Ishiepai (400m hurdles)
- 1958 Silver: Thomas Kawere (Welterweight)
- 1954 Silver: Patrick Etolu (High jump)