I followed the race from the very start. Like many, the hope for a medal was down to the last drop. And then at the 39km mark, I just could not sit still. He run towards the finish line, I was getting closer to the television set.

Here are some of the most memorable Facebook updates I posted from the very minute Uganda’s 2012 Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich crossed the finish line. 12th August 2012. The win sparked off social media storms of excitement and pride which just got stronger by the day. These from my Facebook page (Songa Samuel-Stone).


3:10PM: GOLD. KIPROTICH. UGANDA. GOLD. GOLD. G0LD. Uganda’s Steven Kiprotich wins country’s gold since Aki Bua and only medal at London Games.

3:18PM: Steven Kiprotich used a 42km hankie to wipe the misery of a country that has to do more if moments like this are to take place often not after 40 years. The Olympic band like a friend has said must be practicing an anthem it has not played in a LOOOoong time. As that medal is handed down tonight at Closing ceremony, Uganda will be announced not as many less fortunate participants but as a winner. Late winner but still, a winner. Congs Kiprotich.



Dear Steven Kiprotich,

I can imagine you are yet to get over that moment but here are 5 things the win has done:

– Uganda is now 50th on Olympic medal table.

– Won Uganda’s first gold medal in 40 years the last one having been Aki Bua’s.

– Won Uganda’s first medal in 16 years; the last one was bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

– Win gives Museveni a new brag point; Was going to be a shame that NRM was to leave power with no gold medal won during its reign. I wish it would push government to divert more money into sports.

– And of course, for some, the win brings another reason to beat the current alcohol intake record.

I said 5 but I just found out Dorcus Inzikuru missed the 42km race because uhm…like you guessed, UMEME was at its best.

Politicians, keep off that medal. Kenyans, you too. He might share a name with the Kenyan runner but that word word is UGANDA.

Looking forward to see those newspaper headlines. KIPROTICH = GOLD.

Looking forward to seeing you smile in that moment when you will be awarded that medal tonight.
By the way, this BBC lady is pronouncing your name just fine. You on top of the world.



4:30PM: “I hope teargas is not on the list of banned substances. #Kiprotich might test positive and miss the gold.” – via Ugandan Disses. #KiprotichJokes

4:35PM: #KiprotichJokes: “What did Uganda tell the world?” “Kip” quiet, this is our moment. 🙂

4:40PM: #KiprotichFact: “Kiprotich” means “born when the cattle were returning home for milking”. As the Olympic sun set, Kip brought the gold home.

4:50PM: #KiprotichFact: A Kiprotich from France dropped out of the race, another one from Kenya led for a while and, KIPROTICH from Uganda won the race!

5:12PM: Someone just mentioned Golola Moses and Kiprotich in the same sentence. Yes I slapped him. – Andrew Kabuura, sports journalist. #Dead

5:20PM: Unfortunately, I’m sure some Ugandan leaders were not aware that the #OlympicGames were taking place in London. – Allan Kasujja, radio host. #Truth.

5:25PM: #KiprotichFact: Apart from the government which might dare the rage of Ugandans by using the medal to heap praises on itself, expect musicians to “hit the studio and cook something(s)”.

5:38PM: #KiprotichFact: He is a Uganda Prisons officer attached to Luzira Prison. No doubt, much of Uganda’s sports potential is locked away inside less earning jobs. Aki Bua was a police officer.

6:09PM: In less #Kiprotich news, USA have beaten Spain 107-100 to scoop gold in the men’s basketball final. #London2012

6:14PM: #KipJokes: Official: “Mr. President, we have finally found our gold in Kiprotich.” President: “Which district is that, we need to start mining!!” Oh boy.

6:17PM: BREAKING NEWS: Tomorrow is Monday! Sorry Monday, Kiprotich has made the thought of you bearable. Good bye London Olympics. #HappyNewWeekEverybody.

12:02AM: Uganda’s moment. #Kiprotich receives his gold medal before an attentive global audience. National anthem plays. Not even Bolt got this. #ClosingCeremony

12:22AM: New Vision earlier tweeted this: “Kipsiro to receive his gold medal from Jacques Rogge”. I hope today’s headline is better otherwise. #ThankYouKiprotich.Image

2:05AM: Thank you #Kiprotich. Would have been harder watching that ‘extremely British closing ceremony’ without that medal and Uganda moment. #ClosingCeremony



6:25AM: Newspapers headlines shout Kiprotich. New Vision and Daily Monitor dedicated the entire front page. Image

7:00AM: Dear Ugandans asking ‘what’s everyone talking about, what did that guy do?’ get a tv, read the papers. Grow up. Sincerely, All-Kiprotich-Fans

It was around here that the chopper story which had broken amid the Kiprotich storm (previous evening) became the lead story.

8:15AM: Uganda. The gods couldn’t stand our Olympic triumph. Missing choppers overshadowing #Kiprotich’s moment. Reality bites. Arggh. Image

2:05PM: Government on #Kiprotich. The words are carefully chosen to escape the wrath. “As a country, we congratulate our gallant son Stephen Kiprotich upon this momentous achievement. This success should further galvanize our efforts and resources to produce more of the athletes that will continue to fly Uganda’s flag high.”

2:15PM: MPs want government to declare #Kiprotich a national hero. *this does not need 40 years to do, get it done* #Kiprotich4NationalHero



5:57PM: ON AIR. 1800hrs EAT Newscast. Missing choppers story takes new twist, Kiprotich’s return tomorrow excites nation, Tantawi and missing Cameroonian athletes.

7:00PM: #Kiprotich: Latest reports place that the Olympic hero might be promoted to become the Assistant Superitendent of Prisons.

9:10PM: #Kiprotich’s roles as Asst. Superintendent of Prisons: To chase and catch criminals before they commit crimes. #Dead #Bafudde



7:39AM: #Kiprotich has in the past few min. touched down at EBB. Govt officials at the VIP scene. Journos too. In VIP lounge. Accompained by wife & daughter. Welcome home hero. Image

7:45AM: UBC’s Kasumba asks #Kiprotich; ‘What does it take to run a 10,000m race.’ For the hundredth time, it was the 42km race. (Somewhere she described the hordes that turned up at the airport as ‘millions and millions of people’) Image

10:32AM: #KiprotichHeadlines: “The King of the Final Lap meets the King of Another Rap”. “Sabaddusi meets Sabalwanyi” #HappeningNow


10:41AM: #KiprotichHeadlines: “Uganda’s pithecus Major returns to Uganda”. Eh, New Vision. Kika.

10:50AM: #KiprotichMeetsMuseveni: President Museveni has admitted that the government has not paid sufficient attention to sports in the country. The president who has promised more support has made the remarks at a breakfast meeting with Uganda’s golden hero Stephen Kiprotich.

12:12PM: MUSEVENI MEETS KIPROTICH: President Museveni has given Kiprotich a cheque of about $80,000 and says his money will be transferred to his account today. President Museveni has regretted that his promises to sportsmen have not been fulfilled; says that the much needed High Altitude Training school will be ready in a year.

12:34PM: #KiprotichMeetsMuseveni: Kiprotich to President, ”I am happy for your cheque but what about my parents?” Asks him to build a good house for his parents.

President Museveni in response, ”I will build a good 3 bedroom house for the father and mother of #Kiprotich”. Image


Dear Mr. President,

The easy part is done; in comes the hard one. Having those promises delivered. All eyes watching.

Yours, All-Ugandans.

12:13PM: Kiprotich Shirts have Gone on Sale via @RedPepperUG *the quick are ready to make a golden buck* #Ugandanews

1:15PM: #KiprotichRenditions: Kip-HERO-tich. Kipro-RICH. I am telling you.

Then the Cabinet reshuffle came in. Kiprotich, UPDF choppers and now reshuffle. That afternoon was a long one.

5:47PM: ON AIR. 1800hrs Newscast. What a day. Too much on the news scene. King Kiprotich (the cheques keep coming), the impromptu reshuffle, UPDF Chopper crash death toll rises to 3, Muamba retires etc. Glad days come to an end.

6:17PM: Kiprotich offered a 1-year membership offer at the Kampala Serena Hotel #Maisha Health Club>>>The offers just keep coming.

7:00PM: #Kiprotich got gifts from the Ugandan community in London before traveling, $80,000 from M7 and is now expected to get a winning bonus of over $60,000 from international sports kit maker, Nike. The competition to award him rages on.



FACT #1: Uganda: 1 Gold (Population: 35M). India: 0 Gold (Popn. 1.2B.)>>>

11:47AM: FACT #2: Nigeria 0 Gold (Zero medals) Money spent on 2012 Olympic Team: $13m. Uganda: (Oba how much did we spend!!!)

*Thank You Kiprotich. We didn’t deserve this but you gave it to us anyway*

3:15PM: HAPPENING NOW: Parliament in special Kiprotich session. Speaker Kadaga says Kiprotich’s medal was loaned to Uganda by Kenya since Kiprotich trained from there, and that the government should do more to support sports. Also attending in the VIP gallery is John Akibua’s son who showed to Parliament the medal his late dad, John Akii-Bua, won 40 years ago. Kiprotich to attend a reception at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel. Image

3:18PM: Grateful that Uganda’s #Parliament is paying tribute not to a dead man but a smiling young energetic. – via @Snduhukire #Kiprotich

3:27PM: REMEMBER US: Denis Galabuzi – the VP Uganda Olympic Committee wants other athletes who participated in London 2012 to receive some recognition much as they never brought home medals.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has said the gov’t will step up the search for sports talent in a bid to win more medals in upcoming competitions. #Kiprotich@Parliament.

*sounds illegal not to make promises at this stage. Everyone is promising something*

5:49PM: ON AIR. 1800hrs Newscast. More UPDF soldiers dead, Kiprotich, Assange, Nigeria’s poor Olympic performance, Ebola in Rukungiri + so much more.>>While more soldiers were confirmed dead in Kenya, 2 more were found dead in South Sudan. Had secretly sneaked into a South Sudan market to sell chicken. ‘



7:37PM: The week no doubt had a lot of news but the story of one man’s journey towards success beat them all. Now the week is done. The headlines might die out and so will the social network storms but the mark Stephen Kiprotich has left on Uganda’s canvas will just like the man he emulated – John-Aki Bua – fade not.

There are many unsung heroes in this story including fellow athlete Moses Kipsiro, the person who handed Kiprotich that flag a few metres to the finish line, his understanding bosses at the prisons service, family (wife and two kids), the man he calls headmaster who from High School steered on the young athlete by acknowledging he was born to cover distances for gold. And of course, the parents who must be happy.

As a journalist, following this story which was told by media houses near and far, is a highlight in my career.


*Pictures by New Vision, Reuters, Getty. Cropped picture of newspaper frontpages by me*

Follow @SongaStone



  1. Can i republish this in the WorkZine ? its quite interestingly written

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