In an upset victory, a Ugandan runner outlasted the heavily favored Kenyan and Ethiopian runners in the Men’s Marathon in the final day of competition at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Even though Stephen Kiprotich’s winning time of 2:08:01 was far off the Olympic marathon record of 2:06:32, it was still a proud moment for the 23-year-old and for Uganda as he won his country’s first ever Olympic marathon medal, which so just happened to be gold. Even more impressive is that his gold medal was just the seventh medal overall and the just the second gold medal ever in Olympic history for the Eastern African country that borders the more dominant running country of Kenya.
Turning Point of the Race
It was an outstanding tactical race for Kiprotich on an unexpectedly warm London day, as he trailed the two Kenyan race leaders, world champion Abel Kirui and the other more famous Kiprotich, Wilson Kipsang, who broke away from the pack early in the race. But just as the trio of runners made the turn just past the 23-mile mark, Stephen Kiprotich broke away from the heavily favored Kenyan runners during a slight uphill and surged into a commanding lead with a blistering 4:42 mile. Upon entering mile 25, the Ugandan extended his lead to 20 seconds and the by the time he passed Buckingham Palace at the 26-mile mark, the race was already decided.
Carrying the Ugandan Flag
As with other Olympic gold medalists in this year’s Summer Olympics in London, Kiprotich grabbed a Ugandan flag, draped it across his shoulders and basked in the glory as he crossed the finish line amid a cheering crowd, sometimes four of five rows deep. Kirui finished in second place in 2:0827 while countryman Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich finished third in 2:09:37. The 37-year-old American Meb Keflezighi finished fourth in his final Olympics and Brazil’s Marilson dos Santos took fifth, just seconds ahead of Japan’s Kentaro Nakamoto. The two other Americans, Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman, dropped out within two minutes of each other: Hall suffered a hamstring injury and Abdirahman, who said that he right knee popped two miles earlier had to stop because of the intense pain. The first British runner to cross the finish line was Lee Merrien who finished in 2:17 flat.
Stephen Kiprotich’s gold medal was Uganda’s only medal in the final day of competition in this year’s Summer Olympics in London. But just as Adele, Britain’s most popular singer in today’s music world once said in one of her recent songs: “You’d save the best for last.” But in this case for Kiprotich, last meant Olympic gold.