“Going by what I saw in training, I believe our time for gold has finally come," said Stephen Kiprotich.
EVENT: 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships
HOST: Kampala, UGANDA
VENUE: Kololo Independence Grounds
WHEN: Today (March 26)
Stephen Kiprotich believes Uganda is finally set to pull off that long elusive World Cross Country victory.
“Going by what I saw in training, I believe our time for gold has finally come,” Kiprotich said.
Uganda’s best performance at the now biennial competition has been silver. Moses Kipsiro finished second in the senior men’s race in 2009 five years after Boniface Kiprop’s back-to back silver medals as a junior.
From left, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, Faith Chepngetich of Kenya, Sasha Gollish of Canada and Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich at a conference in Kampala on Saturday. (Credit: Mary Kansiime)
Another Ugandan Thomas Ayeko junior scaled similar heights in 2011. “This is our moment,” stressed Kiprotich who will captain the hosts to their biggest sports event ever at home.
The event will be held in Kampala today.
“I am impressed by what I saw in training. The team is in great shape,” said the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World marathon champion.
While Kiprotich is best known for his exploits in the 42km event, he also has a solid cross country foundation. It was against this vast experience that he was recently named team captain.
This will be his sixth appearance in the event, having made a debut in 2006 in Japan where he finished 24th. He ran thrice as a junior with 12th position in Edinburgh Scotland in 2008 as his best performance at this level.
He was 23rd on his debut as a senior in 2009 in Jordan, a race Uganda’s best remembers for its best ever performance in the world meet.
Moses Kipsiro that year won silver as a senior.
Kiprotich, who is building up for the marathon season, finished fifth at the national cross country in January.
Uganda made its inaugural appearance at the World Cross Country in 1996. This was the 24th edition of the then annual competition in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Godfrey Nyombi in 102 position was Uganda’s best performer followed by Alex Malinga at 113. Ronald Mujuni was third at 131.
Next was Clement Omagoro at 157, Ben Chesang 177, Milton Andabati 193 and Boaz Matsiko 200.
Uganda’s first medal was a team bronze in the men’s juniors in 2000. The team comprised of Martin Toroitich in 11th position, Paul Wakou (15), Job Sikoria (20), Johnny Okello (22).
Boniface Kiprop who was 27th did not score. Between 2000 and 2004 Uganda won four consecutive bronze medals in the junior men’s event.
Uganda has won a total of eight team bronze in this category. Uganda’s best female performance has been team bronze. This was by the juniors in 2010 and seniors in 2015 in Guiyang, China. Uganda’s second appearance was in the Italian city of Turin at the Parco del Valentino in 1997. Uganda that time only participated in the junior men’s race.
Godfrey Nyombi finished eighth; Jafred Lorone 13, Ben Chesang 32 and Vincent Moroga 82. IAAF World Cross Country Championships is the most important competition in international cross country running.
Initially held annually by the IAAF, it was inaugurated in 1973, when it replaced the International Cross Country Championships. It was an annual competition until 2011, when the IAAF changed it to a biennial event.
Find all 2017 World Cross Country action HERE