For most Americans, it would seem odd that Stephen Kiprotich, the dark-horse winner of the 2012 Olympic marathon, would need a bodyguard upon his return to Uganda.
But after his big win in London, Kiprotich accrued a prize purse of $190,000, thanks to a bonus from Uganda’s president and additional fundraising from an entertainment company. While such a haul pales in comparison to the salaries of famous athletes in the United States—by way of comparison, Tiger Woods made more than $62 million in 2011—it's enough to launch him into the ranks of Uganda's wealthy elite.
This has a way of making life difficult. In Kenya, where Kiprotich does most of his training, newspapers tend to publish prize-money winnings and, because they are, in many ways, average people, it's no secret where runners live. In the past, this has led to elite runners falling victim to robberies. Sammy Wanjiru, the famous Kenyan long-distance runner, even hired armed guards to accompany him on the road. For safety's sake—and for the training benefits of living and training with other top-tier athletes—some athletes move to places like Eldoret, a gated community that is home to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)'s High Altitude Training Center.
When you consider average income in East Africa, it makes sense. The GDP per capita is often significantly less than $2,000 per year. That is, 95 times less than Kiprotich’s income so far in 2012.