It was an event that took the longest time. Only the fittest, most-enduring athletes could sustain past the finish line. Stephen Kiprotich was the best amongst them. He ran for over two hours to end up winning the 2012 Olympics Marathon at London. And for that he gets an even bigger prize.
The 23 year old comes from Uganda and had never made the local news, let alone the international headlines. Right from the beginning of the race, he maintained a strong lead over the other participants. With quick, unexpected glances at those behind him every now and then, he made sure that he had no immediate threats. After all this was the marathon: at any point of time a sprint could have changed everything.
He was consistent, competent and most of all confident. He probably knew this within a couple kilometers of the race that he would eventually go down that long route to grab his flag and hold it up high in victory. It was expected that his fellow competitors, one of the Kenyans, would win this race but it was a matter of 26 miles that the spectators knew that wasn’t going to happen.
A victory so deserving became twice as ecstatic for Kiprotich after he came back home to receive a royal welcome and a grand prize of $80,000. This was a token of appreciation to the first gold medal to the country in over 40 years, which came in the 1972 Munich Games.
And what’s the hero going to do with the money? Kiprotich will give a three-bedroom house to his parents.
Another reason for the victorious celebration at home was because of the fact that Uganda was in their 50th year of independence. The president expressed his extreme contentment on behalf of the country saying that this win came at a very patriotic and auspicious time.
“This medal is from God particularly now that Uganda is celebrating 50 years of independence,” he said.
There are talks to creating more facilities for athletes from Uganda and help to be provided at best by the government. Kiprotich himself moved to Kenya to train as there were insufficient facilities in his own home country.
But he has no complains to offer as he holds the big check with an even bigger smile.