Stephen Kiprotich has nothing but good memories of London. It’s in the magnificent city that his life changed after he won Olympic marathon gold last year. The marathoner is now set to return to the Queen’s land to compete in the prestigious Virgin London Marathon on April 21.
Interestingly, the Ugandan will be facing familiar faces, among them, Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, who took bronze in the Olympic marathon. Kipsang also won the London Marathon last year. Former Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai and his Kenyan counterpart Martin Lel, a three-time London Marathon champion, have been entered in the elite field.
World marathon record holder (2:03:38) Patrick Makau of Kenya will be another worry for the Ugandan. “I have seen the entries, the field is very tough,” Kiprotich, who warmed up for the event by winning the Granoller Half Marathon (21km) in Spain on Sunday, told Daily Monitor yesterday.
Despite taking off several weeks to celebrate his Olympic victory with many parties across the country, Kiprotich showed on Sunday he is still as sharp as he was last year.
In his first race of the season, the 23-year-old clocked 1:01:15, the fastest he has run over 21km, to defeat home boy Carles Castillejo. “It was a tough race but I was confident I would win,” Kiprotich, currently taking off a few days in Holland before returning to Eldoret, Kenya for training, revealed. “I am happy I set a new personal best.”
While he was confident of victory in Spain, London is going to be his ultimate test before heading to Moscow for the World Championships in August. Unlike the Olympics where he was competing for his country’s pride, a lot is at stake in the London Marathon.
Besides defending his reputation as a champion, Kiprotich has huge cash prizes to fight for. If he comes first, the Ugandan stands to pocket $55,000 (about Shs143m) and an extra $100,000 (Shs260m) incase he crosses the finish line in two hours and five minutes. That implies that Kiprotich, whose personal best stands at 2:07:20, could return home with about Shs400m.