Stephen Kiprotich has surprisingly made the cut as Uganda Athletics Federation named the team to raise the country’s flag in the Marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Kiprotich joins the three-man team at Solomon Mutai’s expense, with Filex Chemonges and Fred Musobo the other two names on the plane.
Kiprotich had earlier seen his chances to Tokyo slim after failing to beat Mutai’s best time of 2:08.25, when he finished fifth at the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, Netherlands last Month.
However, UAF technical team were convinced that Kiprotich had done enough, basing the selection on current season 2020 form yardstick.
The Women Marathon team has Juliet Chekwel and Immaculate Chemutai.
The Marathoners join a big contingent of team Uganda to Olympics that also has Rower Kathleen Noble, Boxers Catherine Nanziri, Shadir Musa and David Ssemujju, and other athletes like Joshua Cheptegei, Shida Leni, Halima Nakaayi, Winnie Nanyondo, Ronald Musagala among others.
Rugby Sevens team and Swimmers still have a chance to join the list as Uganda takes their biggest contingent since the Munich games.
Can Kiprotich Exorcise 2012 Demons?
The choice to include a 32-year old Kiprotich ahead of Mutai or any of Geoffrey Kusuro, Jackson Kiprop and Robert Chemonges will be met with mixed reviews.
His seconders will front experience and no one will ever forget his heroics at the 2012 London Olympics.
Then, Uganda’s last Olympic champion was 400m hurdler John Akii-Bua, who won gold at Munich in 1972.
Enter the final day of the 2012 Olympics, Uganda was course to leave London empty handed.
The Marathon, final event of the Games, was surely going to be a Kenyan sweep, at least on paper and many pundits had called that. May be an Ethiopian was going to chip in.
And from nowhere, an unknown Kiprotich happened.
Despite an earlier scare of a leg injury, Kiprotich persevered and beat Kenya’s Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang to gold.
He went on to add another gold at the 2013 World Championships, but he went off the map since then.
He ran 2:08:31 in Hamburg in 2019 but he has to do better if Uganda has a chance of stopping a star-studded Kenya team that has outright favourite Eliud Kipchoge, 2019 Chicago and Boston Marathon Winner Lawrence Cherono, Bronze winner in 2019 Doha championship Amos Kipruto and last year’s silver medalist at London marathon Vincent Kipchumba.