Glasgow- Four years ago, Abraham Kiplimo endured a very painful experience.
After spending more than 10 hours travelling from Kampala to New Delhi, India, he was told he couldn’t compete at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Kiplimo had been flown into New Delhi as a late replacement for 5,000m/10,000m runner Geoffrey Kusuro.
But he wouldn’t be allowed into the Games Village where the rest of the athletes were staying.
The accreditation process had been messed up by Uganda’s sports officials. He spent numerous hours at the Village entrance till he was told to return to Kampala.
A flight back home couldn’t be secured until the next day. He was distraught but chose not to dwell on that letdown.
“I remember the pain I went through but I put it behind me very fast. I knew my time would come,” Kiplimo, who endured a frustrating career as a track runner until he switched to marathon last year, told Daily Monitor yesterday.
The 25-year-old’s time came yesterday as he maneuvered to become Uganda’s first ever Commonwealth Games marathon medalist with a bronze.
Kiplimo together with teammates Philip Kiplimo and Solomon Mutai braved a wet surface following a long downpour that started Saturday evening.
It was still raining and unbearably cold for the bigger part of the 42.195km race. In a small field of only 25, the Ugandan trio were tipped to snatch at least two of the medals with Abraham favoured for the gold.
They looked good after a patient start and exchanged the lead with Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany, Erick Ndiema and John Kelai, the champion from Delhi 2010, in the second half of the race.
Australia’s Michael Shelley, the 2010 silver medallist, was prowling in the wings, too, and powerfully broke away late to claim the gold in 2:11:15.
Kiplimo expected a good performance here and his training partner Stephen Kiprotich, probably watching on television back in Kampala, had predicted a medal for him.
Kiplimo had the race in his grip for long spells. But at around 38km, the unthinkable happened; he tumbled at a water point. That could have been the turning point much as he recovered to rejoin the leading group.
“He used a lot of energy trying to close the gap. I was actually surprised he recovered to finish third,” athletics team manager Apollo Musherure said.
The runner said he lost his rhythm after the fall but was still overjoyed by the performance. “My legs became heavy after falling down. I tried to drag myself but wasn’t moving properly,” the runner, who had to overpower teammate Mutai for third, said, “But marathon is like a battle. You have got to fight till the end and that’s what I tried to do.”
Kiplimo, who posted 2:12:23, added. “I am very happy for this performance. It’s my first major championship medal.” Mutai ran out of legs to finish fourth in 2:12:26 with Kenyan Chemlany hanging on for second (2:11:58). Philip faded to eighth in 2:14:09.