Only one runner has managed three straight appearances at the Olympics – steeplechaser Benjamin Kiplagat – at Beijing 2008, London and Rio editions. Stephen Kiprotich would have joined his club but he missed out.
Stephen Kiprotich is not just going to miss the Tokyo Olympics. The former Olympic and world champion will be missing a slice of history when the postponed quadrennial Games start on July 23.
On Sunday, he blew a chance to belong to a select band of athletes to appear at three straight Olympic Games even if he finished a respectable fifth at the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, Netherlands.
His time of 2hr, 9min and 4sec was well under the qualification grade to Tokyo but it wasn’t enough to earn him one of the three marathon quota slots.
Nine Ugandan men had qualified but it is Filex Chemonges, Fred Musobo and Solomon Mutai who will be at the 42km event in Sapporo, capital of the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, on August 8.
Kiprotich won marathon gold at London 2012 and returned to defend the crown at the Rio 2016 Games only for Kenyan great Eliud Kipchoge to usurp him in wet conditions of Sambódromo.
Only one runner has managed three straight appearances at the Olympics – steeplechaser Benjamin Kiplagat – at Beijing 2008, London and Rio editions.
Kiprotich’s miss mirrors that of Uganda’s first-ever Olympic gold medallist John Akii-Bua.
Akii-Bua posted a world record of 47.82 seconds to win 400m hurdles gold at the 1972 Munich Games.
Whereas Kiprotich had a chance to defend his gold, Akii-Bua didn’t because Uganda boycotted the 1976 Montreal Games.
Akii-Bua returned for the 1980 Moscow Games but he stopped in the semi-final Heat 2.