By William Cheptoek
The Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) has strongly condemned the negative comments made by some Athletics fans regarding long-distance runner Jacob Kiplimo’s performance at the Monaco Diamond League, where he finished in sixth position with a time of 12:42.12 microseconds.
Reigning 2023 World Cross Country Champion fans were seen posting disparaging remarks about Kiplimo’s performance, expressing disappointment after the race. One fan even compared him to Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, implying that he is not maintaining his form as expected.
“Once regarded as unbeatable, now star Jacob Kiplimo is fading off slowly, coaches and upcoming athletes should learn from Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon who has persistently maintained the form,” one of the fans posted on his Facebook and several Whats App groups.
Dominic Otuchet, the President of UAF, labeled such behavior as ignorant and called on the fans to educate themselves about how Athletics as a sport operates. “You see most of these fans do not have a better knowledge in the sport and, it’s could be one of the reasons they come up with loose comments,” he said.
Adding that, “losing in a competition, sustaining injuries, and winning combine to make Athletics complete and fans should be honest enough and encourage them instead of condemning”.
Otuchet advised elite athletes like Kiplimo to ignore such negative comments and focus on their career development and progress. Dear athletes it’s my request that, you render such comments powerless when it comes to your career development and progress,” he said.
Benjamin Njia, the vice president technical at UAF, revealed that frequent counseling sessions are being held during training to ensure that athletes are mentally strong and not affected by negative social media comments.
“Apparently, even at our National camp were we are preparing for 2023 world Championships, counseling sessions are on especially when it comes to family matters issues and social media approach,” Njia explains. Kiplimo said that he is not afraid of social media criticism and is determined to use such comments to strengthen himself and learn from them positively.
“I shall not be intimidated by such posts, for what I know is that every one can’t be your fan and friend for the reasons best known to them,” the soft spoken Kiplimo said. Joshua Cheptegei, the world record holder for 10,000 and 5,000 meters, also spoke out against the negative comments made by fans.
“I didn’t also like how fans wrote in regard to my colleague, and this you know sometimes leads to sour relationships amongst the athletes themselves, for some will say it could be an influence from some of the elite athletes we now have,” Cheptegei warned.
Kiplimo, Cheptegei, and other Ugandan athletes are currently training at the national camp in Kapchorwa, preparing for the 2023 World Championships.