The Rise and Rise of Boniface Kiprop
Dorcus Inzikuru congratulating Boniface Kiprop after winning a gold medal.

The Rise and Rise of Boniface Kiprop

Whenever my mother sent me to the shop to buy something, I couldn't walk...

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: June 30, 2006

In the Sebei (the people of Kapchorwa in Eastern Uganda) dictionary, the name Kiprop means "born when it's raining", and in the believers' context of whatever religion, rain is a symbol of blessings.

Who can dispute this when you are talking about the phenomenal rise of Uganda's international long distance runner celebrity, Borniface Kiprop, from the little known Suam village in Kapchorwa. From a common boy who lived his life in his village by Mt Elgon in the mountainous areas near the Uganda-Kenya border, today, Kiprop is the celebrated Melbourne common Wealth 10,000 m gold medallist. A medal, which many will agree came to someone who deserves it for his ardent interest and efforts in athletics. Kiprop's interest in the sport dates back from childhood.

"Whenever my mother sent me to the shop to buy something, I couldn't walk. There was a long distance from home to school but I can't recall when I went walking," recalls the Zana High school student.

According to the 2004 interview with Sports Fever magazine, from childhood, Kiprop could hardly miss radio commentaries involving stars like Paul Tergat and Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie.

"I would listen keenly to the Olympics and also wish to emulate them," Kiprop says.

Growing up on the border is probably why, up to now, Kenyans insist the genes of the Ugandan celebrity is theirs. Little wonder, the name Kiprop, together with the Toroitich [his elder brother] are common names in Kenyan passports. Kenyan Marathoner Fred Kiprop, is the case of point.

2002 BAA Marathon Mile 16:  Rogers Ropp (winner) leads Fred Kiprop
2002 BAA Boston Marathon mile 16: Rogers Ropp (winner) leads Fred Kiprop.
Image Source: Running Page

Our Boniface Kiprop sent signals of his arrival in the sport in 2000, when he became the first Ugandan to win an individual world cross-country medal, a bronze in Dublin.

This was on top of twice leading Uganda to a 3rd position in the team event of the top cross-country event.

At the Africans Junior Championships 2 years ago, Kiprop's rich talent was underlined by a rare double of gold and silver, further confirming his arrival on the scene to rub shoulders with Kenyans and the Ethiopians, who happen to be the masters of long distance races.

In the 2004 Van Damme Memorial TDK golden race, despite finishing 5th, Kiprop crossed the finishing line in 27;04 ;00 to break his own national record interestingly in the same stadium [Rome] where he had set the previous one, propelling his local manager Godfrey Nuwagaba, to describe it as the best stadium in Europe.

In the same year, the then 19-year-old youngster scooped the Uganda Sports Press Association [USPA] sportsman of the year award after bagging a gold medal in the World Junior Championship once again in Grossetto, Italy.

In the Athens Olympic games, making his debut in the senior category, despite finishing 4th out side the medal bracket, Kiprop surprised every one when he put up a lion hearted show to beat Ethiopia's celebrated great, Haile Gebrselassie, a man he admired and wanted to emulate from his childhood.

Perhaps one of his weaknesses is that he starts well but his finishing touch has always been lacking and has ruined him medals for long. His failure to win a medal in the Athens Olympic Games proves my argument. He led the pack from the start only to loose in the final few meters. Also, unlike another Ugandan super star Dorkus Inzikuru, Kiprop seems to be inconsistent and should devise means on how to beat the likes of Keninisa Bekele, Sileshi Sihine,Mike Kigei ,Isaac Songok , Eliud Kipchonge among other Kenyan and Ethiopian stars who enjoy the advantage of running as a team to beat Kiprop whose compatriots like Moses Kipsiro, Wilson Kipkemei and Yiga can hardly help him because they cannot cope up with his pace.

But the dreams of the young man who grew up in a hut came true in March this year when he won a gold medal in the 10,000 m after posting 27;50;99 in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Boniface Kiprop infront of Kenya's Geoffrey Kipngeno
Boniface Kiprop infront of Kenya's Geoffrey Kipngeno.
Image Source: Kiprop wins gold in Melbourne
and Gebrselassie's mark under threat

On his return at Entebbe airport, he was accorded a red carpet honors for his triumph before he was hosted by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at his home in Nakasero. The president's handshake overwhelmed Kiprop and he promised to work hard such that he gets another chance to be hosted by the big man.

"I can't believe it, who is Kiprop to be hosted by the president, I will work hard and meet him once again," exclaimed the boy from Kapchorwa.

Related Links

  • Dorcus Inzikuru, the Ugandan Gazelle
  • 2005: A Year of Upsets and Revolutions
  • Profile: KIPROP, Boniface(UGA)
  • Gebrselassie's mark under threat
  • Kiprop wins gold in Melbourne
  • Inzikurus parents miss historic race
  • IAAF Profile Biography: Boniface KIPROP (UGA)
  • By Ramathan Kasozi
    more from author >>
    First published: June 30, 2006
    To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to

    Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.