Uganda’s World marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich, said the IAAF World Championships gold is his best medal as compared to the one he won in the London 2012 Olympics Games.
While responding to questions at a press conference in Moscow after his triumphant fete, the double gold medalist said he believes it’s the better of the two medals because “it is this the one which is current and it will be defended in a shorter time”.
Unlike the Olympics that is held every after four years, the IAAF World Championships is a two-yearly event. But that means he has to work even harder to retain the coveted top medal.
The 24-year-old long-distance runner shook himself off his closest challengers in the Moscow men’s marathon on Saturday and cruised to convincing victory with a time of 2:09:51.
Dorcus Inzikuru is the only other Uganda to win gold at this event, having accomplished the great feat in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 2005 in Helsinki, Finland.
“I will hold this one dearly,” Kiprotich told journalists, while giving credit to veteran Ethiopian athletics champion Haile Gebreselassie for the encouraging words he told him in 2007 when he had just started running.
“I was 11th and I went and asked him what I should do to become a champion like him in my first race in Netherlands.
“He told me that I had to train for five years. At first I felt that it was an insult but I realize what he told me was right,” he said, smiling.
The Ugandan champion said that they had been told that the weather was not favourable before they had traveled but that “was no big deal”.
“The only thing that stood tall was the determination and that is what made the difference. The route was circular and coming from a cross-country background, it was simpler to me,” he said.
(This piece was originally written by Norman Katende for the New Vision Newspaper in Uganda)