Crowded around television sets, cheering Ugandans celebrated as compatriot Stephen Kiprotich claimed an unexpected gold medal in the Olympic Games men's marathon Sunday.
Outsider Kiprotich stunned a heavily fancied Kenyan team to grab victory, leaving two-time defending world champion Abel Kirui to claim silver and long-time leader Wilson Kipsang taking bronze.
Kiprotich's gold was only his east African nation's second, the last coming 40 years ago when 400m hurdler John Akii-Bua struck gold at the Munich Games.
"It is a great day for us Ugandans and for our country," Ahamed Lubwama, a restaurant manager in the bustling Kabalagala suburb, told AFP.
Lubwama, 51, said he could still remember listening to the radio as a boy the last time Uganda scooped a gold medal, but did not have much hope that he would ever see his countrymen claim another one.
"It is a surprise for Ugandans to get that gold after so many years -- it is a miracle to us," Lubwama grinned.
As Kiprotich produced a devastating kick with 7km to go to win in a time of 2hr 08min 01sec on the spectacular course around the streets of central London, Ugandans crowded the dusty roads outside bars to will him on.
"The people were so many and they were enjoying it so much and cheering," David Abola, a bartender, said, pointing at a gaggle of happily chattering customers.
"People were standing out on the streets and others were even climbing on the sides of buildings to try and see it."
As the race reached its climax and it became increasingly clear that Kiprotich would win, disbelief turned to jubilation, Abola said.
"The occasion united many people... nobody expected it but it was really so wonderful to see our own man pick up a gold medal," Abola, 32, said.
Hampered by poor facilities and lack of funding, Ugandan runners have typically faced an uphill struggle as they try to compete with athletes from regional powerhouses Kenya and Ethiopia.
Kiprotich himself has had to move to the famed Eldoret region of the Kenya's Rift Valley to train and spends much of his time outside Uganda.
The next time he returns, however, he should be in for a rapturous welcome from his proud homeland.
"Wow, he is a hero now and when he comes back there will be a very big party," Aswaf Mugwe, a motorcycle taxi driver, said.
"I had not even thought to watch the race because nobody thought he was one of the stronger athletes -- but I did watch and am very happy."
And, Mugwe said, after years of watching neighbouring Kenya claim victory after victory it was especially sweet to see a Ugandan beat two Kenyans to claim top spot.
"The Kenyans have always been so strong and we have watched them win so much but now we have beaten them this time."© ANP/AFP