Not only did Stephen Kiprotich's performance result in an almighty fracture of Ethiopian/Kenyan domination of male marathon running, but his victory represented only the second time Uganda has produced an Olympic champion. Kiprotich now partners John Akii-Bua, a 400m hurdler who won gold in the Munich Games of 1972, in the pantheon of Ugandan sporting fame.
With Wilson Kipsang establishing a 16 second lead approaching the mid-way point, the race seemed likely to spring few surprises with fellow Kenyan Abel Kirui fronting the trailing runners. Kipsang, who went into the event as the 2012 London marathon winner, saw his lead gradually diminish as Kirui and Kiprotich made up ground. Approaching 23 miles, Kiprotich made a decisive move, kicking far harder than the Kenyan pair to come home, draped in the Ugandan flag, in 2:08:01.
As much as his victory was a surprise for enthusiasts of distance running, Kiprotich seemed just as shocked by his own performance: "Before the race I thought a Kenyan or Ethiopian would win. I didn't believe it could be me. But I kept in touch and, when it came to three miles to go, I just decided to go. I've joined the champions and I am very happy."
Abel Kirui, who has recorded successive wins in the World Championships, provided an apt analogy for Kiprotich's injection of pace in the concluding stages: "I was thinking Kiprotich was fading away. In my mind I thought I was going to have a sprint with Kipsang. Then I saw him go past me like a cheetah."
The event saw British duo Lee Merrien and Scott Overall finish 30th and 61st respectively. Merrien, who initially missed out on qualifying for the race, said he was content with his time of 2:17:00: "I am pleased but I had a target of top 20. I didn't quite achieve that, but it was a strong field. I feel I justified my selection."
Overall, however, expressed his disappointment in finishing in 2:22:37, a time that was substantially slower than his qualifying run in Berlin. After completing the first half of the race in 65:30, Overall revealed he miscalculated both the effects of the weather and paid the price at the end: "It was tough. I probably didn't respect the conditions enough. I think I really suffered there on the last lap."