MOSCOW — Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich added the world marathon gold to his Olympic title on Saturday, again shutting out strong Ethiopian and Kenyan squads.
The Ugandan prison warden clocked 2hr 09min 51sec around the streets of Moscow, with Ethiopian duo Lelisa Desisa (2:10.12) and Tadese Tola (2:10.23) claiming silver and bronze respectively.
It was Uganda’s second world gold medal after Dorcus Inzikuru won the 3000m steeplechase at the 2005 worlds in Helsinki, and only the African nation’s fourth medal ever.
The 24-year-old, who placed ninth at the 2011 worlds in Berlin, caused a big surprise to win on the streets of London last summer but was some way off the pace on his return to the British capital for the London Marathon in April.
But he timed his run to perfection in Moscow against a raft of more favoured opponents, although the Kenyan squad were missing double defending champion Abel Kirui, who was out injured.
Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 world bronze medallist who eventually placed fourth here, took up the early running after Brazil’s Solonei Da Silva ran out of steam in hot, sunny conditions.
Morocco’s Hafid Chani then took the pack through 15km in 46:39, but the Kenyan quintet and the Ethiopians were always there or thereabouts, with Tola again leading the contenders.
Uganda’s Jackson Kiprop led the field through the halfway mark in 1:05.12, with Japan’s Kentaro Nakamoto the sole non-African in the top 10, the Japanese runner going on to finish in fifth.
After 90 minutes of running, Kiprotich, Tola and Kenyan Peter Some finally made a move as the field broke up.
But Kebede, Kiprop and Desisa caught the trio up, and the stage was set for the showdown between the two nations everyone expected.
However, it was not an Ethiopian or Kenyan who had it in them to up the pace, but Kiprotich, taking Tola and Desisa with him, Some falling off and then Tola.
The Ugandan then accelerated away again, zig-zagging across the street leading up to the Luzhniki Stadium in a bid to shake off Desisa, who set a world-leading mark to win the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:45 before going on to win the Boston Marathon
The tactic finally paid off, Kiprotich building up a comfortable lead and running into the stadium with one arm raised in victory salute.
Who is Stephen Kiprotich
He was born on 27th February 1989 in Kapchorwa district. He is the 2012 Olympic champion in the marathon, with a winning time of 2:08:01 in hot, sunny, and humid conditions.
This was the first Olympic medal for Uganda since 1996, the first gold medal since 1972, and the first ever in the marathon.
He is the youngest of seven children of subsistence farmers from Kapchorwa District, near the Uganda-Kenya border. As a child, he missed three years of elementary school due to an undiagnosed illness. From 2004 to 2006, he quit athletics to concentrate on school.Then, at the age of 17, he quit school and moved to the Eldoret region of Kenya, in the Rift Valley, to train for the marathon with Eliud Kipchoge. He was assisted by A Running Start, a non-profit foundation based in New York.
He ran a personal best in the marathon of 2:07:20 in 2011 at the Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands, which set a new course record for the Enschede Marathon and a new Ugandan record in athletics.He finished third in the 2012 Tokyo Marathon with a time of 2:07:50.
He was inspired in part by John Akii-Bua, the only previous Ugandan Olympic gold medalist, who won the 400 metres hurdles in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, setting a new world record in the process.He then went on to win the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, ahead of Kenyan runners Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich who finished second and third respectively.
In 2012, Kiprotich won the Nile Special-Uspa Sports Personality of the Year award, the Ugandan sports award.
Kiprotich is considered a national hero, mostly based upon his gold medal, but also his other athletic achievements.