The Ugandan team left Daegu yesterday with nothing but sad memories of the World Athletics Championships. Of the 12 runners that made the trip, only steeplechaser Jacob Araptany and marathoner Stephen Kiprotich made commendable displays.
At his first senior event, the 19-year-old Araptany finished sixth while Kiprotich was ninth in the gruelling 42km race. But had Moses Kipsiro been here Uganda was likely to feature on the medal table. The country’s current best runner missed the championships through sickness and other troubles including threats to his life.
Unfortunately, there are signs he will not represent the country soon having already pulled out of the ongoing All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique. The Commonwealth double gold medallist told Daily Monitor last month he was unable to go out of his house and train because some people were plotting to kill him.
A World Championships bronze medallist at the 2005 edition in Osaka, Kipsiro has raised Uganda’s flag very high at every big meet in the past five years. He made history while becoming the first runner to clinch a 5000m-10000m Commonwealth double in 72 years in India last year. After India, he was viewed as one of the top contenders for a medal in both the 5000m and 10,000m at the just-concluded event. He was very unfortunate not to make it here.
What is more worrying is that Kipsiro may not be ready for the 2012 Olympics with talk that many in the fraternity, including some athletics managers in the country, are out to frustrate him. Already, he has been stripped of the 2012 Olympic Solidarity Scholarship that would have taken care of his preparations for London 2012.
Yet without Kipsiro, it’s clear the country can’t win a medal at a serious event. His colleagues simply don’t measure up partly due to lack of coaching, motivation and ill-preparations. It is high time the powers-that-be stopped sleeping. There are many runners out there but we must be ready to invest in preparing them. But first, instead of frustrating Kipsiro, let’s try and get him back on track. He still has a lot to offer and without him there are darker days in the wait. football.