By Daniel Edyegu
BOTH his parents and wife missed out on watching live telecast of their biological own make yet another golden feat in Moscow!
But his brother Michael Ayeko, despite all the mystery that shrouded the exact time Stephen Kiprotich would step on track to compete in the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, stood resilient.
James Kiptoi Kiboi, 93, and Enserena Cheptum Kokop,63, Kiprotich’s parents, and his wife Patricia Kiprotich, were holed away in the remote Cheptilyal village, Tegeres sub county, in Kapchorwa district. So, the news of Kiprotich’s victory wafted to the family through Ayeko, who watched every-minute of the marathon on digital television in a video hall in Kapchorwa town.
“At first, rumour kept spreading around that Kiprotich would compete on track at 8:30am on Saturday. So, early that morning, I, together with Patricia (Kiprotich’s wife) dashed to town to witness the marathon on television. At 8:30am, nothing was on screens.
Patricia, disappointed, went back home but I kept waiting,” Ayeko narrated.
“When the marathon finally started at 1:30pm, I knew my brother was up to something from his body language. He waved unto us on the screen and gestured with his hands how he would race speedily.
In the midst of the race, I kept praying for divine intervention until he finally crossed the tape. The whole video hall where I was watching the game bust out into ululations,” Ayeko narrates.
Kiprotich may have sneaked in some airs of confidence in Ayeko when he flashed that jovial gesture on the screen but he kept his fingers crossed throughout the marathon.
“I went out to watch Kiprotich during the Boston marathon in London in April and he managed a dismal 6th position. So I was sceptical whether anything would change in Moscow until he allayed my fears with that victory,” Ayeko observes.
Kiprotich clocked 2:09:51 to beat two Ethiopians on track. And the moment Ayeko delivered the good news of Kiprotich’s exploits in the world marathon, Cheptum and Kiptoi only had old age and the bad road leading to the ancestral home to blame for their failure to watch the golden boy conquer the road again.
“When Kiprotich won the Olympic Gold in London, Government promised to build us a house complete with a solar and a digital-television set installed. The house has been built. But electricity is still lacking. If we had electricity in this village and a television set in the new house, there would be no way we would have missed out on this win.”
“The 7km-murrum-road from Cheptilyal to Kapchorwa town is severely riddled with numerous potholes and becomes impassable whenever it rains. At our age, there’s no way we would have moved to town to watch this marathon in video halls like our son did. Government must consider tarmacking this road.
“My son is a national hero and infrastructure leading to his home must depict this,” Cheptum said.
Patricia, the wife to the Golden athlete, said the second win, though she never expected it, had once again brought pride to the family and the nation.
“When Kiprotich wins, Uganda wins! Winning gold once is wonderful. But repeating it twice is exciting! This time when he was heading to Moscow, we never spoke face to face. He only called on phone to notify me of his departure. As a wife, I am proud of my husband and I continue to pray that God gives him streghth to continuously repeat such feats,” Patricia said.