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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Behold, A New Ugandan Hero is Born

Not once, but twice, one Ugandan athlete has spoilt the party for Kenya in the ongoing Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

His country’s medal hopes in the games were firmly rested on his young shoulders. And he has delivered, albeit to the chagrin of East African neighbours, Kenya. Among the sixty seven athletes that traveled to Delhi donning Uganda colours, only 24-year-old Moses Ndiema Kipsiro has stepped up to the challenge and achieved a feat that has sent the Pearl of Africa nation into high jubilation.

Kipsiro did not only win gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters events, but ended years of sweat, trial and failure to upstage bitter rivals and favourites Kenya in the two long distance track events.

Kipsiro edged out experienced Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and third-placed Mark Kiptoo for his first gold in the 5,000m at Jawharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday 6th, the first day of athletics competition in the game’s calendar.

As the dejected Kenyans did a lap of honour with disappointment clearly screaming across their faces, Kipsiro was all smiles as he did his own lap with the Ugandan flag wrapped around his waist. Little did many know that the Singare village born athlete who started his journey to stardom as a P3 pupil was planning his next big move.

And when his time came again in the 10,000m, Kipsiro timed his sprint to perfection, coming from behind to beat Kenyans Daniel Lemashon, Joseph Kiptoo and Titus Mbishei to the finish line and snatch his country’s only tenth gold since it first took part in the Commonwealth games in 1954.

If New Delhi were, in the least, neighbours with Uganda, the Indian Capital could have been painted yellow as Kenyans realized when Ugandans forced a 0-0 draw with the Harambee Stars in the Africa Nations Cup qualifier played at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi on Saturday October 9.

But this needed not happen as the Ugandan press has been in jubilation and awash with praises on the man simply called Kips in his native country. ‘History as Kips wins more gold’, headlined the Daily Monitor after Kipsiro’s triumph in the 10,000m.

The Daily Monitor could not find strong words enough but summarized Kipsiro’s conquering display saying, “Kenyans can no longer stop Moses Kipsiro. They simply can’t.” The paper continued by branding Kipsiro, “the star of Delhi 2010 in the Ugandan team of 67 (12 runners).”

With a headline, “Kipsiro outwits Kenyans in Delhi”, The New Vision reported that Kipsiro’s next slaying target will be to beat world record holder Kenenisa Bekele to a gold in next year’s world championships and the 2012 London Olympics.

Some might consider this farfetched considering that Kipsiro’s 27:57.39 time is way below Kenenisa’s 26:17.53 world record time.

Nevertheless, oomph and circumstance awaits him back in Kampala where the government has pledged to reward him big. "He is a real star and deserves a big reward that the government will give him,” remarked Uganda's State Minister for Education and Sports Charles Bakkabulindi, who was at the games. 

Uganda President, Yoweri Museveni, is also reported to have given a rear telephone call to Kipsiro, thanking him for the work well done.

Uganda has competed in thirteen of the eighteen previous Commonwealth Games, from 1954, winning 10 gold medals, 12 silver and 17 bronze.

Kipsiro became only the second Ugandan to win two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games, and the first to win a double in a single Commonwealth event. Muhammed Muruli was the only other Ugandan to win two gold medals in Edinburgh, 1970 and New Zealand, 1972.

The three-time Ugandan cross-country champion becomes the first runner to do the track long distance double since the Commonwealth Games’ name was changed from the British Empire Games. Cecil Matthews of New Zealand achieved the fete in the British Empire Games in 1938 (3miles & 6 miles).

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Uganda won two gold medals through Dorcus Inzikuru in the Women's 3000m Steeplechase, while Boniface Kiprop Toroitich triumphed in the men's 10000m, while Kipsiro could only finish a disappointing 7th in the men’s 5000m won by Kenya’s Augusitine Choge.

The Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) voted him Sports Personality of the Year 2007 and 2008 following his outstanding performances in international competitions.

Born in Singare village, Bukwo, one of Uganda's remotest districts, Moses Kipsiro is coached by Ricky Simms who is also the manager of world 100m and 200m record holder Usain Bolt.

Moses Kipsiro's Career Highlights 
2003    18th     World Cross Country Championships (junior race)
2005     21st     World Cross Country Championships (junior race)
2006     29th    World Cross Country Championships (short course)
2006     23rd    World Cross Country Championships (long course)
2006       7th     Commonwealth Games (5000m)
2006       3rd     African Championships (5000m)
2006       1st     African Championships (10,000m)
2007       1st     All Africa Games (5000m)
2007       3rd     World Championships (5000m)
2007       7th     World Athletics Final (3000m)
2008      13th    World Cross Country Championships
2008      4th     Olympic Games (5000m)
2008      2nd`    World Athletics Final (5000m)
2009      2nd     World Cross Country Championships
2009       4th    World Championships in Athletics (5000m)
2010      3rd    World Cross Country Championships
2010      2nd    Africa Championships (10,000m)
2010      4th    African Championships (5000m)
2010      1st     Commonwealth Games (5000m)
2010      1st     Commonwealth Games (10000m)

And That's thesteifmastertake!!