The Rise of Stephen Kiprotich a Ugandan long-distance runner

Compiled by E K Benj @kivumbi

In our series ‘Senior Citizens’ today we profile Stephen Kiprotich
Ugandan long-distance runner.

Not to be confused with Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich.
Stephen Kiprotich (“KIP-roh-tich”, born 27 February 1989) is a Ugandan long-distance runner, born in Kapchorwa District. He is an Olympic marathon champion, having won gold at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. He also won gold at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics. He is the second person, after Gezahegne Abera, to follow an Olympic marathon gold medal with a world championship gold medal for the same event.

Quick Facts

He clinched the Olympic gold 2012 Olympic champion with a winning time of 2:08:01 in hot, sunny, and humid conditions. This was the first Olympic medal for Uganda since 1996, the first Olympic gold medal for the country since 1972, and the country’s first ever in the marathon. He won the Moscow IAAF championship marathon on 17 August 2013.


Kiprotich is the youngest of seven children of subsistence farmers from Kapchorwa District, near the Uganda-Kenya border. As a child, he missed three years of elementary school due to an undiagnosed illness. From 2004 to 2006, he quit athletics to concentrate on school. Then, at the age of 17, he quit school and moved to the Eldoret region of Kenya, in the Rift Valley, to train for the marathon with Eliud Kipchoge. He was assisted by A Running Start, a non-profit foundation based in New York.


Kiprotich ran a personal best in the marathon of 2:07:20 in 2011 at the Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands, which set a new course record for the Enschede Marathon and a new Ugandan record in athletics. He finished third in the 2012 Tokyo Marathon with a time of 2:07:50.

Kiprotich was inspired in part by John Akii-Bua, the only previous Ugandan Olympic gold medalist, who won the 400 metres hurdles in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, setting a new world record in the process. He then went on to win the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, ahead of Kenyan runners Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich who finished second and third respectively.

In 2012, Kiprotich won the Nile Special-Uspa Sports Personality of the Year award, the Ugandan sports award.

In 2013, Kiprotich won the IAAF Moscow 2013 Marathon in 2:09:51 to grab the Gold Medal.

In 2014, Kiprotich took part and completed the New York City Marathon in 2:13:25. Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich was the winner in 2:10.59. In February 2015, he ran a new personal best in the marathon of 2:06:33 in finishing second at the Tokyo Marathon.

In 2015, Kiprotich appeared in Jayant Maru’s film SIPI the movie, a Ugandan produced film.

In 2016 Stephen Kiprotich ran in his second Olympic marathon at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games; Kiprotich, the defending champion finished 14th in 2:13:32 in a race won by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge.

In 2017 he represented Uganda at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda. Kiprotich finished 17th in a race won by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor. He went on to finish second in both the Hamburg Marathon and Fukuoka Marathon, clocking 2:07:31 and 2:07:10 respectively.

In 2018 he competed in the Hamburg Marathon and Toronto Waterfront Marathon, finishing off of the podium in 5th and 7th respectively.

In 2019 Kiprotich was 3rd in the Hamburg Marathon in 2:08:31 and represented Uganda in the men’s marathon at the 2019 World Championships in Athletics in Doha, Qatar. Stephen finished 18th in 2:15:04 in a race won by Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa.

Kiprotich’s next marathon was in April 2021 where he finished 5th at the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, Netherlands in a time of 2:09:04. He was the first Ugandan to finish beating Geoffrey Kusuro and Ugandan national record holder Felix Chemonges.

Stephen Kiprotich was selected for the Ugandan team in the men’s marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. He is expected to compete in August 2021 alongside teammates, Fred Musobo and Felix Chemonges.

Stephen Kiprotich is a member of the NN Running Team and trains in Kapchorwa, Uganda.


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