It was meant to be a day to appreciate the greatness of Joshua Cheptegei for his exploits and Team Uganda at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
He reversed the script, much to the amazement of everyone at Sheraton Hotel.
Telecom giants, MTN, called a briefing to pour their love for Uganda’s Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T) after his 5000m gold and 10000m silver medals exploits. Cheptegei returned more.
“Allow me to use this very chance and ceremony to award my gold medal to the golden captain and legend Stephen Kiprotich,” a teary Cheptegei said.
“He inspired all of us, especially when he won gold at the Olympics in London.”
It’s now nine years since that run in the marathon which delivered Uganda’s first gold in four decades.
For Cheptegei, and many athletes, it feels like yesterday. According to the world record holder, the current crop have all built a name and Kiprotich’s seniority was very fundamental in their success in Tokyo.
He says he was always giving them advice and indeed he led them well so he awarded him the gold medal and promised to win his own gold in Paris in 2024.
At the ceremony, MTN were rewarded the athletes, coaches and administrators in the just concluded 2020 Olympics which was Uganda’s best showing since her debut in 1956 in Melbourne.
A total of 17 athletes, five coaches and three administrators who made up the Uganda athletics team contingent to the Olympics were given a total sum of Shs175.5m to share.
This included Shs50m to each of Cheptegei and 3000m steeplechase women gold medallist Peruth Chemutai. The former got another Shs25m for the 10000m silver.
Jacob Kiplimo received Shs10m for his bronze. The gifts from Cheptegei were not done. He requested that the Shs25m be given to Kiplimo.
In addition, Kiplimo’s Shs10m was passed on to Stephen Kissa, the third Ugandan in that sweltering 10000m race where he ran 16 laps before dropping out.
Cheptegei described Kissa as a wonderful team mate who always gives them courage whenever they are competing and they would love to share this Joy.
MTN also gave him Shs100m to go towards the ongoing campaign to complete the Joshua Cheptegei Training Centre.
While handing over the cash prizes, MTN chief executive officer (CEO) Wim Vanhelleputte, commended the team for flying the Ugandan flag high and bringing home a record haul of four medals from a single Olympics event.
He added that since Cheptegei won double medals MTN is going to reward its clients with double bundles for the whole of next week in commemoration of these medals.
The delegation was led by the president of the Uganda Olympics Committee (UOC) Donald Rukare. He thanked MTN for always coming in handy to help the federation and even other sports disciplines.
They presented certificates of appreciation to the CEO and to the entire team of MTN. They also gave him an autographed original Nike men and women athletics kit and requested them to frame it.
Cheptegei is the only Ugandan who has won two medals at the same Olympics.