KAMPALA, Uganda, August 26 – World marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich has been “overwhelmed” with gifts and support after pulling off an upset in Moscow against distance giants Kenya and Ethiopia, he said Monday.
The jovial athlete out-kicked a strong field and again displayed the smart tactics that propelled him to a shock Olympic gold over the distance last year in London.
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.
His London victory had secured Uganda’s first Olympic medal in 40 years.
“I am very happy given the number of donations coming through. They are overwhelming,” Kiprotich told AFP.
The runner, who works as a prison warder, was greeted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on his return, and presented with a car, a cash prize and the promise of a house.
He also said the president had promised to build a “high altitude training centre in my honour”.
Ugandan athletes have long complained about the lack of funding.
Like most of the country’s top runners, Kiprotich has been forced to move to Kenya’s renowned high altitude Rift Valley to do most of his training and to attract the attention of sponsors and agents.
But Uganda’s sports minister, Jessica Alupo, suggested that attitudes were changing — with the president greeting and handing cash prizes to the entire Moscow team upon their return.
“These sportsmen and women have played a major role in marketing Uganda and promoting sports,” she told AFP. “It is befitting that the president recognised their efforts.”