News and Views
Hundreds receive Kiprotich
left without much notice. But when a beaming Stephen Kiprotich emerged from a British Airways passenger carrier at 7.55am yeterday, he was the deal. A man who left as a warder in the Uganda Prisons force was now staring approvingly at a promotion to Assistant Superintendent of Prisons (ASP).
And a man who left without much in his pockets had arrived to a Shs200m token from President Museveni. Kiprotich was being rewarded for his exploits in winning Uganda’s first Olympic gold medal in 40 years after beating Kenyan seasoned marathoners Wilson Kipsang and Abel Kirui at the just ended London Games. The late John Akii-Bua won the debut gold in the 400m hurdles at the 1972 Munich Games.
“For Kiprotich, I don’t want to promise like Kipsiro (Moses),” said President Museveni at a breakfast he hosted Kiprotich and Team Uganda to at State House Entebbe shortly after they had left the airport. “I want to say asante (swahili for thank you) here and now,” he added as he jettisoned for a Shs200m cheque to be brought forward and handed over to Kiprotich.
The President also regretted Kipsiro’s unfulfilled pledges of a high altitude track in his Bukwo home, a house and car, saying the people responsible did not follow up.
Kipsiro was promised the aforementioned after winning double gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m races at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. The said has since been approved in this financial year’s budget.
“The Minister of Education and Sports (Jessica Alupo) is here,” said Mr Museveni, adding, “The high altitude school should be ready in a year, medal winners internationally who want placement should be placed in government forces, and they should also be given a monthly allowance (of Shs1m).”
Kiprotich was pleased with the President’s cheque but he had another request. “I’m happy for your cheque Your Excellency,” he said, “But what about my parents? I’m requesting you to build a good house for them.”
The President then declared: “I will build a nice three-bedroomed house for the father and mother of Kiprotich. And this the State House Comptroller will execute.”
More than 100 people including the runner’s family – his wife and two children plus his father and mother – and government dignitaries had lined up at Entebbe Airport terminal to receive the nation’s hero.
Outside the VIP lounge, hundreds of fans carried placards, some blowing trumpets and dancing as they waited for Kiprotich. After over an hour clearing and meeting government officials, Kiprotich, who shed some tears after being overwhelmed by emotions shortly after emerging from the plane and seeing what was in front of him, emerged from the VIP lounge to an ecstatic crowd.
Security battled hard with the unruly fans as they struggled to either have a glimpse at the most sought after Ugandan or touch him. Walking the 40 metres or so through a mob of people to inspect a guard of honour mounted by Uganda Prisons, where Kiprotich is employed, seemed longer and tedious than the 42km he ran to gold.
Kiprotich, driven in a black convertible with customized numbers reading UG GOLD, finally made it to the State House from where a procession mounted by fans led him to Kampala.
Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich stunned a strong Kenyan team to win the men’s Olympic marathon, handing his east African nation only their second ever gold medal.
Kiprotich timed 2hrs 08min 01sec on the spectacular course around the streets of central London, with two-time defending champion Abel Kirui claiming silver.
THE BACK GROUND
- Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich stunned the Kenyan challenge to clinch a surprise Olympic gold medal in the marathon on Sunday.
- The 23-year-old burst past Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang around the 38-kilometre mark to leave his two rivals trailing and claim only Uganda’s second ever Olympic gold in athletics.
- Kiprotich followed in the footsteps of his compatriot John Akii-Bua, who was 400 metres hurdles champion 40 years ago, and crossed the line in two hours, eight minutes and one second.
- Kiprotich, who has moved to the famed Eldoret region of the Kenya’s Rift Valley to train with former world 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge, accelerated away, a brief look back over his shoulder confirming his position at the head of the field.
- It was Uganda’s second ever Olympic gold medal after John Akii-Bua won the 400m hurdles in the 1972 Games in Munich, with the east African country’s only other medal a bronze from 400m runner Davis Kamonga in 1996.