By James Bakama
STEPHEN Kiprotich was the center of attraction in the build-up to this year’s ING New York Marathon.
The attention was understandable as Kiprotich lined up with over 40,000 runners for one of the most lucrative marathons yesterday.
Kiprotich took to the starting line as Olympic and World Champion solid credentials that also had the Ugandan as a serious contender for the $500,000(sh1.2bn) World Marathon Majors (WMA) top prize.
But as it turned out, Kiprotich faded to 12th position as a new Ugandan star emerged in Jackson Kiprop.
Kiprop finished seventh sending a clear message that the times when he entered races as a pace setter for Kiprotich could well be over.
As Kiprotich struggled to keep abreast with the front pack, Kiprop had an easier morning at times even surging into the lead of a race won by Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai in 2:08:24.
Kiprop clocked 2:10:56 well ahead of Kiprotich (2:13:05).
There were all signs that with more fighting spirit and self-belief Kiprop has the potential to soar to heights scaled by other super stars.
Just like at the World Championships in Moscow two months ago, Kiprop was for most of the race always amongst the front runners.
Eventual WMA jackpot winner Tsegay Kebede, who was second yesterday, and Mutai were visibly uneasy as the Uganda Prisons officer put up a toe-to-toe challenge.
But like in Moscow, where he set the pace for eventual champion Kiprotich before finishing tenth, he again lacked that crucial killer instinct.
Coach Benjamin Longiros, who closely followed the race from Uganda, was disturbed by Kiprotich’s failure to shine.
“Something could have gone wrong. That happens in marathon when it is not your day.”
On Kiprop, he said the runner has the world at his feet.
“All he has to do is to get it to his mind that he can do it, and he will also be a champion.”