By James Bakama
IT had to be Boniface Kiprop! No wonder when the announcer on Saturday declared the slightly built teenager from the Elgon mountains best USPA personality for 2003, everyone applauded.
Kiprop achieved so much last season that if some of his performances were to be transformed to senior level, he would fly in the same orbit as big names like John Akii-Bua and Davis Kamoga.
The Standard High School student started off by entrenching himself in the world's cross-country elite.
He finished in the cream of four prestigious races in Europe in a cross-country season that climaxed in a world silver (Uganda's first) and a team bronze.
Kiprop was equally good on track blazing to 5000 and 10000-m national records. He then attained one of those rare athletics feats- golds in both the 5000 and 10000m at the Africa Junior Championship in Cameroon. He was later fourth at
the Abuja All Africa Games before winning a bronze at the Afro-Asian Games in India.
No Ugandan junior has attained so much. The likes of Francis Ogola and Julius Acon, USPA top personalities for 1992 and 1994, also sparkled, but their medals pale when compared to Kiprop's feats.
So, what sets Kiprop apart? Besides hailing from an area that has produced some of the worldâ€™s best runners, Kiprop also has an insatiable thirst for success. But perhaps his biggest attribute is a lion's heart.
Most teenagers would shudder at the prospect of taking on big names like Kenenisa Bekele or Haile Gerbreselassie. But not Kiprop.
But much as Kiprop has sprinted into prominence, the USPA gala exposed him as having failed to grasp simpler basics like the dress code.
Clad in a faded track-top and unmatching trouser, Kiprop, who has ironically had vast exposure in Europe, looked out of place at Munyonyo.
That he appeared in the same attire last season to receive the top athleteâ€™s prize, probably also says a lot about those who manage him.
Dressing aside, Kiprop has all that is required to win many more accolades.
I SAY SO