By Our Reporter
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo has won the country’s first gold medal in the history of the IAAF Cross Country Championships.
The youngster beat off competition from Kenya and Ethiopia in a tight Junior Men’s race at the 42nd edition of the Championships held in Kampala, Uganda this Sunday afternoon.
The Kenyans and Ethiopians dominated all the races but the Ugandan long distance runner ensured that the host nation had something to celebrate apart from a wonderful and successful organisation of the event.
“When I decided to break away going into the last lap, I knew I was going to win,” Kiplimo said at the finish line.
Kiplimo was congratulated by President Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet Museveni who attended the event from start to finish.
It was a moment of national bride as the Uganda National Anthem blared out of the speakers on Kiplimo collecting his medal.
Meanwhile, in the Senior Men’s race, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei got injured and surrendered a healthy lead with just a kilometer to the end of the race.
The crowd was on their feet sensing something special as the chasing defending champion Kenya’s Kamworor disappeared into Cheptegei’s background. But with the finish line in his sight, Cheptegei inexplicably broke down. The crowd tried to cheer him on but there was little they could do when Kamworor closed in. The Kenyan champion passed the local boy with ease, then the Ugandan runner dropped from running to jogging and the rest of the chasing pack passed him one by one.
This, however, didn’t stop the supporters from encouraging the evidently broken Cheptegei to get to the finish line. He did and he got a round of applause for his efforts.
Over all, Team Uganda was awarded the ‘team bronze’ medal.
The team medal combined with Kiplimo’s historic gold and the successful organisation of the event means it was a triumph for the Pearl of Africa.