Now that Stephen Kiprotich has become only the second person in history to win gold in the marathon at the Olympics and World Championships, he could as well have assumed first position on the list of Uganda's greatest sports personalities, writes David Lumu.
When Stephen Kiprotich crossed the finishing line in Moscow, to comfortably win by 21 seconds from Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, it seemed as though the 24-year-old had barely broken a sweat. He looked so fresh, as if he could have maintained the finishing pace for another 10 kilometres.
Most importantly, he erased the slightest doubts about his greatness and his legacy will forever be defined for winning the two most important marathon races in the world of athletics. Before winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics, most Ugandans - even those in sports circles - barely knew him because he hadn't won anything significant before.
The hopes for an Olympic medal lay solely on the shoulders of Moses Kipsiro. So, a few pessimists equated Kiprotich's Olympic glory win to a flash in the pan. They reminded optimists of the young Boniface Kiprop, who had wowed the world as a junior before vanishing into virtual oblivion.
Not only is the marathon the most enduring discipline in athletics, it is also the most unpredictable. That's why Kiprotich's victory on Saturday ranks among the greatest in athletics. Which begs the question; has Kiprotich done enough to be Uganda's greatest ever sports personality?
In terms of achievement, he has surpassed everyone - including the legendary John Akii-Bua - who won Olympic gold in the 400m hurdles in 1972. What makes Akii-Bua stand out is that he did it in world record fashion and chances are high he would have repeated the feat in 1976 had Uganda not joined the rest of Africa in boycotting the Montreal Olympics.
Besides, the world championships started in 1983 long after Akii-Bua had retired. However, Akii-Bua barely made his mark at the Commonwealth Games and it could be argued that his peak lasted for just a year. Which is somehow surprising that Kiprotich has also achieved these feats in just one year.
And who knows what the future holds as he continues to mature?
He may not have broken or even come close to Patrick Makau's 2:03:38 record but he didn't need to because, just like the Olympics, there are no pace-setters at the World Championships. Only the crème de la crème.
However, given the fact that each country, irrespective of ranking, is only allowed to enter five athletes for the marathon, it would most likely have been a different story for Kiprotich had he been against a contingent of Kenyans. But for now, what matters is that he passed the two biggest tests in athletics and any more victories will only serve to cement his position as the greatest of all time.