KAMPALA- Jacob Kiplimo became the latest of revelations in Uganda’s athletics after striking the country’s first-ever gold at the IAAF World Cross-country Championships on Sunday.
The teenager’s superb display enroute to winning the junior men’s 8km race sent the capacity Kololo crowd into overwhelming ecstasy.
The natives watching on television were overly joyed as social media particularly Twitter went gaga. Unlike many breakthroughs at junior level by Ugandan runners, Kiplimo’s will remain exceptional for a long haul.
Why? Kiplimo purified the start to his career by delivering glory on home soil.
That’s already unique from Julius Achon’s 1500m glory in Lisbon 1994, Dorcus Inzikuru’s 5000m gold in Santiago 2000, Boniface Kiprop’s 10000m in Grosseto 2004 or even Joshua Cheptegei’s 25-lap win in Eugene three years ago - all at the World Junior Championships.
And inevitably, that triumph only left the nation yearning for more from the spikes of the 16-year-old.
Already, the country’s greatest long-distance runners Kiprop and Inzikuru, as well as three-time Commonwealth gold medalist Moses Kipsiro and Stephen Kiprotich do inspire Kiplimo.
“Yes, I have time to train and be like them. I can do it,” the youngster Kiplimo told this paper.
Inzikuru cheered on Kiplimo while Kiprotich has always been a ‘fatherly figure’ to Kiplimo. “I was happy with what Jacob did,” said Kiprotich.
“He did really well. Before his race, I spoke to him and told him what to do,” said the 2012 Olympic champion Kiprotich who is related to Kiplimo. “His dad is an uncle to my mother.”
Prior, Kiplimo had already matched Inzikuru and Kiprop at World Juniors with 10000m bronze in Bydgoszcz, Poland last year. He will still be eligible to pursue gold at this level at the next edition in Tampere, Finland next year.
Aged 15, he then featured at the Rio Olympics in Brazil last August yet Olympic debuts for Kiprop and Inzikuru came 19 and 23 respectively in Athens 2004.
Kiplimo will have a bigger task to match the success at bigger Championship meets like Inzikuru’s 3000m World steeplechase gold in Helsinki 2005 or Kiprop’s Commonwealth 10000m gold in Melbourne 2006.
“In Rio, we (Kiplimo and Kiprotich) had enough time to talk. And he listened to my experiences I shared with him. He is strong and can still do a lot more.” Kiprotich, who had his Olympic debut at 23, added.