Athletics Athletics

Kiprop finally tastes belated Olympics glory


NAIROBI, Kenya, December 7- It took three years for Asbel Kiprop to be coroneted as the Olympics men 1,500m champion but it was worth the wait.

On Wednesday, the lanky 22-year-old finally received the top medal that was taken away from him by a runner who enhanced his performance using the banned blood booster, CERA, Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi.

“I never thought it would be a big ceremony whereby the national anthem would be sang since I would have been in a track suit. I’m so excited having stood today in a suit, something that is not likely to happen to many people,” Kiprop who was resplendent in a black suit, white shirt and tie said after marking another milestone in his chequered career.

It was the first time for an Olympics gold medal to be awarded in his home nation and he reveled in breaking another barrier in a country where athletics excellence is legendary.

“It means even in 100 years or 30 when Kenya plans to host the Olympics, I will remain the first one to be sang the national anthem to receive gold,” he explained the groundbreaking moment.

Although the iconic Bird Nest in Beijing did not form the backdrop of his crowning, Kiprop who ran 3:31.33 in the metric mile final received his top medal from the country’s father of the sport, Dr. Kipchoge Keino.

“It is a great honour for me to be given the medal by a person who we all look up to. This motivates me even more to go to the London Olympics and win since I wish to be the first man in history to win two 1500m gold medals in a row,” he added in reverence to the retired legend who won gold in the race at the 1972 Olympics in Munich added.

As an International Olympics Committee member, Kipchoge is the only Kenyan mandated by the rules of the body to award a gold medal.

“IOC had told us if this year passes without organizing the ceremony, then we had to return the gold medal and today, I’m pleased that we have him here to receive his due,” Kipchoge noted.

In addition to the top medal, Kiprop, who was flanked by his spouse, Sammary Cherotich, the girl’s 1500m gold medalist from the 2007 Ostrava World Youth, received Sh250, 000 and a Blackberry mobile phone from communications service provider, Safaricom who sponsored the presentation ceremony.

“I wish to share this moment with my wife who has been my support for all the years I waited. Although it has taken long and as I prepare for next year’s Olympics Games, this is a great motivation,” he stated.

He then set his sights on the London 2012 Olympics saying, “I want to assure you only a mistake on the track will stop me from winning in London. I want to be among the legends to win two successive Olympics medals,” he added.

“This is such a happy moment for him and at the moment, I’m focusing on re-launching my own career since having him as a husband is motivation,” Cherotich stated.

During the ceremony, a rendition of the national anthem rang out as the 1972 Munich Olympics gold winner, Robert Ouko, who was in the victorious 4X400m relay quartet, hoisted the Kenyan flag backstage.

The cash award was to top up the Sh500, 000 ($5,556) he received as a silver winner from Safaricom that had pledged Sh750,000 ($8,333) for every gold medal from Beijing.

Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma, also pledged to up the State’s award for the Beijing winner by a similar amount having paid Kiprop Sh500,000 in 2008.

Escorting Kiprop to the improvised podium was former women’s world marathon record holder and Olympian, Tegla Loroupe and Athletics Kenya chair and IAAF Council member, Isaiah Kiplagat.

Boxer Nick Oluoch, who was elevated to the bronze position at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi after the Sri Lankan winner was discqualified also received his medal from Otuoma during the fete.