KAMPALA- World and Olympic champions – Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich and Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi - were as in unison in the latter’s famous finish line gig as unequivocal in their call for government support for sports.
Kiprotich, the 2012 London Olympic marathon champion, had just collected his second straight Nile Special-Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) Sports Personality of the Year accolade for winning gold at the Moscow World Championships last year.
He was joined on the glitzy stage at the annual Uspa gala night on Saturday by special guest, Kenya’s World and Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, where the two danced away to a traditional Kikuyu tune before making clear the need for further government support to sports.
“I’m very happy for Uspa hosting me, for having recognized my contribution to the country (Kenya),” said an ever smiling Kemboi – clad in a gray suit. “In my country, we respect our athletes and we are supported,” he added, “For example, if you win gold in Kenya, you get $10,000 (Shs25m).” Kiprotich – suited in black - echoed Kemboi’s call: “My mind is set for the competition in 2015 (Worlds) and 2016 (Olympics),” he said, “I am still young (25 years) and I need your support.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, was the chief guest at the Imperial Royale Hotel event as well as the willing listener.
“I’m happy the Speaker is here,” added Kemboi, “So madam Speaker, next Tuesday (tomorrow) take this to Parliament. We need to support our sports.” Kadaga was positive.
“As a person and as a speaker, we do support sports but we can always do more,” she said, “So I agree with Mr. Kemboi, we need to support our athletes.
“I will speak about it (further government support for sports) in Parliament as Mr Kemboi has requested.
“I also appeal to other bodies to recognize our celebrities (sportspersons) like Uspa rather than just celebrate with them.”