Good things come to those who wait, it is often said. Benjamin Kiplagat has waited long enough but not so many good things have come his way.
Until last month, his career has only been full of frustrations. But at the Africa Senior Championships in Porto Novo, Benin, the Ugandan steeplechaser finally stepped on the podium for the first time in four years.
Although he clinched bronze, it was a big relief for the lanky runner, especially with the Olympics just days away. “This medal means the world to me,” he said after finishing third behind Kenyans Wilson Maraba and Abel Mutai. Shortly after returning from Benin, Kiplagat headed straight to Iten, Kenya for high altitude training with the target of representing the country better than he did at the Beijing Olympics.
“I am getting better as a runner and I want to finish on the podium at the Olympics,” the 2008 world junior silver medallist noted. Although in good form, Kiplagat could only finish ninth in the Beijing Olympics final. He still rues that performance following a bright start to the water-jump race. London now presents him the perfect opportunity to erase the Beijing debacle from his brain. While many think the wet summer in London will affect athletes’ performances, Kiplagat isn’t worried.
“Weather is not a problem to me. I like it cold,” he said. Speaking of medal chances that have now eluded Uganda at the quadrennial games since sprinter Davis Kamoga’s heroics in Atlanta 1996, Kiplagat has hopes that the London-bound team won’t return empty-handed.
“Everyone is preparing seriously and I guess we shall at least have a medal.” He will run the steeplechase alongside Jacob Araptany hoping to end Kenya’s stranglehold.
Swimming: Ganzi Mugula, Jamila Lunkuse Badminton: Edwin Ekiring
Weightlifting: Charles Ssekyaaya
5000m: Abraham Kiplimo, Thomas Ayeko, Moses Kipsiro, Geoffrey Kusuro
3000m steeplechase: Dorcus Inzikuru
Marathon: Jane Suuto, Stephen Kiprotich
3000m steeplechase: Benjamin Kiplagat, Jacob Araptany
1500m: Janet Achola,
800m: Annet Negesa, Julius Mutekanga