He was once the face of Uganda’s athletics. The mention of his name summarized what the sport in Uganda was all about.
He delivered medals in quick succession and there was general belief he would dominate athletics for very many more years.
But in 2009, Boniface Kiprop disappeared without a trace. Expected to lead Uganda’s charge at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Kiprop then aged 24, didn’t board the plane to Germany. There was no explanation. Close to five years later, Kiprop, now 29, is back.
“I had a very bad injury though some people think I had lost interest in athletics,” the 2006 Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion, told Daily Monitor. “But I am now ready to race again. I have been training for some good months. I am in competition shape.” In two weeks, the runner will have his first competitive race in Europe. “I will be travelling soon. I know I have been away for too long and must start slowly. I will do a 10 kilometre road race and camp in Italy thereafter,” he said.
Credited as the man who revolutionized long distance running in Uganda, Kiprop won three World Cross-country Championships medals (two silver and one bronze) as a junior between 2002 and 2004.
Just aged 19, Kiprop then shocked the fraternity when he finished fourth (10,000m) at the 2004 Olympics, beating Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie to the line. Days after the Olympics, he set a world junior 10,000m world record of 27:04.00 at the Memorial Van Damme meeting in Brussels.
After clinching gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Kiprop’s star started to fade with Moses Kipsiro threatening his dominance on the local scene. As he returns, Kiprop must fight for a place at the top with Kipsiro and Stephen Kiprotich, currently the country’s number one distance runner. There is also Jackson Kiprop, officially the country’s second best marathoner. And with ageing legs, Kiprop’s main interest will be in marathon in which Kiprotich is king.