By Luke Phillips
How I won second gold
After shutting out strong Ethiopian and Kenyan squads to add the world marathon gold to his Olympic title on Aug.17, Stephen Kiprotich, says he is very happy the race was competitive.
“I realised I could win after 40km. Then I just kept pushing,” he told AFP, “I decided to break off but my competitors were strong and I had to apply some tactics.”
Kiprotich clocked 2hr 09min 51sec around the streets of Moscow, with Ethiopian duo Lelisa Desisa (2:10.12) and Tadese Tola (2:10.23) claiming silver and bronze respectively.
It is Uganda’s second world gold medal after Dorcus Inzikuru won the 3000m steeplechase at the 2005 worlds in Helsinki, and our country’s only fourth medal ever.
Kiprotoch, 24, who placed ninth at the 2011 worlds in Berlin, caused a big surprise to win on the streets of London last summer but was some way off the pace on his return to the British capital for the London Marathon in April.
However, he timed his run to perfection in Moscow against a raft of more favoured opponents, although the Kenyan squad were missing double defending champion Abel Kirui, who was out injured.
Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 world bronze medalist who eventually placed fourth, took up the early running after Brazil’s Solonei Da Silva ran out of steam in hot, sunny conditions.
Morocco’s Hafid Chani then took the pack through 15km in 46:39, but the Kenyan quintet and the Ethiopians were always there or thereabouts, with Tola again leading the contenders.
Another Ugandan medal hopeful, Jackson Kiprop led the field through the halfway mark in 1:05.12, with Japan’s Kentaro Nakamoto the sole non-African in the top 10, the Japanese runner going on to finish in fifth. After 90 minutes of running, Kiprotich, Tola and Kenyan Peter Some finally made a move as the field broke up.
But Kebede, Kiprop and Desisa caught the trio up, and the stage was set for the showdown between the two nations everyone expected.
However, it was not an Ethiopian or Kenyan who had it in them to up the pace, but Kiprotich, taking Tola and Desisa with him, Some falling off and then Tola.
Kiprotich then accelerated away again, zig-zagging across the street leading up to the Luzhniki Stadium in a bid to shake off Desisa, who set a world-leading mark to win the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:45 before going on to win the Boston Marathon
The tactic finally paid off, Kiprotich building up a comfortable lead and running into the stadium with one arm raised in victory salute.
“With 2km to go, I thought I could compete with Kiprotich,” said Desisa. “Normally I’m a good finisher since I am originally a 10,000m runner.
“But I wasn’t able to change gear, maybe because I didn’t feel well and vomited after breakfast.
“Before the race, we were aiming for an Ethiopian sweep and we worke