World marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich is in Beijing, China, to defend his title, in a race that has some of the best names in the Marathon.
The names of former marathon champion Geoffrey Emmanuel Mutai, former world record holder Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kipruto Kimetto, that diminutive ‘new kid on the Kenyan block’ with the all-time best in 2.02.57 in the marathon should all be cause for Kiprotich to up his ante this time round, and add yet another world title, something that will thrust him further up in the record books of athletics.
There is no doubt Kiprotich is the most celebrated Ugandan athlete and sportsman in recent times, and much as his conquering feat at the 2012 Olympic and 2013 Worlds has been recognized, we as Ugandans need to cheer him when he takes to the 42 kilometre route.
Uganda seems to be taking steps to announce its presence in the sporting world, and it is worth mention that world and Olympic champion Kiprotich is taking to the Worlds, just a week after an inspiring performance by the She Cranes at the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia.
Indeed, such inspiring stories may be few-in-between but they need to be bolstered by action, with the respective government officials drawing plans of how the country’s athletes should be further encouraged to become world-beaters.
Needless to mention therefore, it is disheartening when we see our sportsmen and women struggle to solicit for funds to enable them participate in competitions, yet millions are dished out to people who should otherwise make good use of their hands to eke a living. All this points to a misdirection of priorities but not all is lost and the government can still redeem its image by paying some more attention to sports.
That said, one of those Ugandans who has exhibited extraordinary character and needs recognition is the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who even reportedly offered personal money to cater for the immediate needs of some Ugandan sportswomen who were stranded in South Africa; it is such ‘simple’ gestures like Kadaga’s that have kept Uganda’s sporting spirits alive!
And Kiprotich is one such spirit who needs our prayers.