Athletics: Kiprotich wins gold for Uganda
LONDON (Reuters) - Stephen Kiprotich drew inspiration from Uganda's only previous Olympic champion and capitalized on the benefits of training at altitude in Kenya to win the London Games men's marathon on Sunday.
"I was unknown, now I am known," Kiprotich told reporters after winning Uganda's first medal of the Games in the final event of the athletics program before thousands of cheering spectators on the streets of London.
John Akii-Bua, who set a world record in the 1972 Munich Games 400 meters hurdles final, was Uganda's only other Olympic champion.
"I always kept him in mind," Kiprotich said after accelerating away from Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Abel Kirui with six kilometers remaining in the 42.195km race past some of London's most celebrated landmarks on a hot and humid morning.
"I saw him coming like a cheetah," exclaimed twice world champion Kirui, who had been locked in a three-way battle with Kiprotich and London champion Kipsang since the 30-km mark on a loop course with one short and three long laps.
"It was very hard to control that kind of move."
Kipsang had taken the early lead, passing the halfway stage in 63 minutes 15 seconds in a successful attempt to split the field, before he was gradually reeled in by Kiprotich and Kirui.
"I took it out because the pace was so slow and I knew we would have problems at the end so I tried to push," he explained.
Kiprotich crossed the line in two hours eight minutes one second, 26 seconds ahead of Kirui. Kipsang was 1:10 further back.
His time, in his fourth marathon, was the third fastest at the Olympic Games and his gold medal was the first of any kind by a Ugandan distance runner.
Kiprotich, 23, trains in Eldoret with a number of elite Kenyans, including Emmanuel Mutai, the east Africans' third man in Sunday's race.
"The problem with Uganda is that there are no facilities," he said. "I come from an area where there are no facilities.
"I spend some time in Kenya, some in Uganda but most of my time is spent in Kenya in a training camp.
"At the start of the race I thought either Kenya would win, Ethiopia would win. Then I thought maybe I could move.
"It is our second gold medal. I made history for my people, my coaches, my manager, for Uganda. I am happy."
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