KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has urged Government to declare Joshua Cheptegei a national hero and erect a statue in memory of him not only for his heroics in Tokyo but also to inspire other Ugandans to put the country above himself.
This was revealed by the FDC Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Harold Kaija on Tuesday morning during the weekly press briefing at the party’s headquarters at Najjanakumbi where he described Cheptegei’s heroics and actions as incomparable and serving to be recognized.
‘A person who can give away his gold medal!’ Kaija said. ‘He reminds us of President George Wear (of Liberia) who became the best footballer in the world, but decided to use his prize money to buy food for his people.’
Adding; ‘If we only had 10 percent of those people in this country, the situation would be different.’
According to Kaija, venerating Cheptegei, especially in light of kindnesses and empathy towards others has the potential to inspire the country against corruption and greed, which he said is endemic in the current NRM government.
Cheptegei, who won a gold medal in the 5,000 metres and a silver in the 10,000 metres in the games, donated one of his medals, a gold, to Stephen Kiprotich and also part of his cash prize to fellow athletes.
The cash had been given to the athlete by telecom giants MTN as a reward for Uganda’s athletics team success in the games in Japan.
In all, MTN gave out a total of sh175.5m, which was shared among the 17 athletes, five coaches and three administrators.
The money included sh50m each for Peruth Chemutai and Joshua Cheptegei for winning gold for the country.
Cheptegei was also given another sh25m for the silver medal while Jacob Kiplimo received shs10m for his bronze medal at the games.
However, at the function, Cheptegei gave away one of his medals, which he said was to thank Kiprotich for providing inspiration to him, saying he expects to get another one during the Olympics games in Paris in 2024.
The 5000m world champion also gave away part of his sh75m cash prize money received from MTN to fellow athletes.