16 August 2012

Uganda: Parliament Honours Gold-Medalist Kiprotich

Photo: BackpagePix
Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich celebrates winning the Olympic men's marathon in London.

Uganda Parliament has paid special tribute to Olympian Stephen Kiprotich for winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics.

In a special sitting convened by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday, MPs sprinkled praises on the 23-year old athlete for winning Uganda a second ever gold medal since 1972, when the late John Akii-Bua won the country's first in Munich, Germany.

For many Ugandans, this has been a significant breakthrough from an exactly four-decade-long jinx

"Parliament is happy for this historic moment today. It has been a long wait of 40 years. We congratulate Stephen Kiprotich," Kadaga said.

For a humble man he is, Kiprotich sat within the Parliament chambers on seats preserved for dignitaries behind the Speaker.

His parents joined him later on while the wife, who it was said was unwell, missed the session.

Stephen Kiprotich (with medal) poses with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga (on his left) and Prisons chief, Johnson Byabashaija (on his right) with some members of Parliament on Thursday.

The motion to honour Kiprotich was presented by the minister of education and sports, Jessica Alupo.

It was seconded by MPs John Obua (head of sports in Parliament), Odonga Otto (head of Parliament sports team) and Chemutai Phyllis and Tete Chelangat from Kapchorwa and Bukwo district respectively.

The Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi reiterated President Yoweri Museveni's offers when he hosted Kiprotich at State House Entebbe for breakfast on Wednesday.

Mbabazi reminded Parliament of the donation of sh200m to the athlete, government's pledge to build a house for his parents, completion of the high altitude training centre in Kapchorwa and payment of allowances to athletes who attain such standards.

"Those who attain this qualification will be entitled to employment in government, unless they choose not, especially in the security services," he disclosed.

"We don't want a medal only after 40 years," he said.

The Premier thanked the British for organizing a flawless 30th Olympiad and for their spirit of voluntarism which saw 70,000 nationals work without pay to ensure the success of the recently concluded games in London.

He also saluted the Kenyan government for granting Kiprotich access to the high altitude training centre in Eldoret.

Kiprotich beat two strong Kenyan contenders to win gold in the men's marathon last Sunday.

The leader of opposition Nandala Mafabi thanked Government for the offers in the wake of Kiprotich's victory but challenged the executive to establish a clear criterion for rewarding sportsmen who excel.

Mafabi appealed to Government to tap the resources of young athletes in villages through budget allocations.

He pointed out that Kapchorwa, where Kiprotich hails from, is one of the hard-to-reach areas because of the impassable roads.

"Construct their road as a sign of reward," he proposed.

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