Joshua Cheptegei’s emphatic 10,000m gold on Friday night took Uganda’s gold medals’ haul to three here and catapulted the country to 14th position out of 71 countries at the Commonwealth Games.
By press time, Uganda was Africa’s third best placed team behind South Africa and Nigeria heading to the closure of the Games today.
Uganda was sitting above neighbours Kenya, Northern Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Cameroon and Ghana.
It is 48 years since Uganda won three gold medals at the same edition – all boxing – at the Games staged in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Those were achieved through the fists of James Odwori in light flyweight, Mohammed Muruli in light welterweight and heavyweight Benson Masanda.
Three track medals
The 2018 Commonwealth Games have written their own chapter in the annals of history with three track medals. Cheptegei’s 5,000m and 10,000m double will live long in the memory as will Stella Chesang’s triumph in the women’s 10,000m.
Even runners, who missed by a position to join the medals table such as Jacob Kiplimo and Winnie Nanyondo will leave Gold Coast fully aware that they did the reputation or their country’s no harm.
Two other athletes Mercyline Chelangat and boxer Juma Miiro are set to fly back as medallists and together with Chesang, their feats will be etched in stone.
The netball team, the She Cranes, won over several hearts after courageously taking New Zealand and England to the wire and it has been tipped ‘to become the world number one in the next two years’ by the International Netball Federation president Molly Rhone.
The girls qualified for the 2019 World Cup next year after their 54-52 victory over Malawi, and were evidently fatigued in the classification defeat to South Africa seeing how they had played three games in three days. Boxing had fallen off the pedestal as the country’s surest source of medals but Miiro defied odds and administrative turmoil in the sweet science to manage bronze.
What the Commonwealth Games did was reminding the world of the magnificent sporting talent that abounds in Uganda.
Uganda’s Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei crosses the finish line ahead of Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed in the athletics men’s 10,000m final during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on April 13, 2018. AFP PHOTO
It also helps that the team, for the first time in years, boarded the plane to Gold Coast with no qualms. Each athlete received an allowance of Shs7.7m before departure, something which helped achieve a piece of mind among the athletes. They also departed for Gold Coast with all their luggage.
Four years ago, the travelling contingent made it to Scotland with neither their uniforms nor upkeep money. Morale inevitably turned low, then. 2018 was without doubt a massive improvement.
For sheer talent, few countries compare with Uganda. For instance while Goal Shooter Peace Proscovia was the highest profile player on the team, the lady whose contribution stood out was arguably Goal Attacker Rachael Nanyonga.
Raw natural talent
Yet she confessed to Daily Monitor that she had never lifted any weight of any kind and was relying purely on her natural skill.
In contrast, the build of teams such as Australia, New Zealand and England were full of women’s whose bodies had been chiselled by significant hours in the gym.
Sports like boxing and table tennis have made headlines for negativity thanks in part to longstanding disagreements among warring parties. The High Altitude Training Centre project in Teryet has taken much longer than had been expected, something which can only be detrimental to Uganda’s upcoming long distance runners.
The art of winning medals goes well beyond facilitation and rather than embracing the Cheptegeis and Miiros at their medal celebrations, it would be proper for authorities to get involved in the day-to-day affairs on a given discipline.
UGANDA’S MEDALS AT COMMONWEALTH GAMES
1954 VANCOUVER, CANADA
Patrick Etolu (Silver, High Jump)
1958 CARDIFF, SCOTLAND
Thomas Kawere (Silver, Boxing)
1962 PERTH, AUSTRALIA
George Oywello (Gold, Boxing), Kesi Odongo (Silver, Boxing), Joseph Ssentongo (Bronze, Boxing), Francis Nyangweso (Bronze, Boxing)
1966 KINGSTON, JAMAICA
Alex Odhiambo (Bronze, Boxing), Mathias Ouma (Bronze, Boxing), Benson Ocan (Bronze, Boxing)
1970 EDINBURG, SCOTLAND
James Odwori (Gold, Boxing), Mohamed Muruli (Gold, Boxing), Benson Masanda (Gold, Boxing), Leo Rwabwogo (Silver, Boxing), Deogratias Musoke (Silver, Boxing), William Koskei (Silver, Athletics)
1974 CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
Mohamed Muruli (Gold, Boxing), Ayub Kalule (Gold, Boxing), Silver Ayoo (Silver, Athletics) James Odwori (Silver, Boxing), Ali Rojo (Silver, Boxing), Shadrack Odhiambo (Silver, Boxing), John Byaruhanga (Bronze, Boxing)), Benson Masanda (Bronze, Boxing),
1982 BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
Ruth Kyalisima (Silver, Athletics), Peter Rwamuhanda (Silver, Athletics), Victor Byarugaba (Silver, Boxing)
1990 AUKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Justin Juuko (Gold, Boxing), Godfrey Nyakana (Gold, Boxing), Charles Matata (Bronze, Boxing), Abdu Kaddu (Bronze, Boxing)
1994 VICTORIA, CANADA
Fred Mutuweta (Bronze, Boxing), Charles Kizza (Bronze, Boxing)
1998 KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Jackson Asiku (Bronze, Boxing)
2002 MANCHESTER, ENGLAND
Joseph Lubega (Silver, Boxing), Mohamed Kayongo (Silver, Boxing), Martin Mubiru (Bronze, Boxing)
2006 MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Dorcus Inzikuru (Gold, Athletics), Boniface Kiprop (Gold, Athletics)
2010 DELHI, INDIA
Moses Ndiema Kipsiro (Gold, Athletics 10000m), Moses Ndiema Kipsiro (Gold, Athletics 5000m)
2014 GLASGOW, SCOTLAND
Moses Ndiema Kipsiro (Gold, Athletics 10000m), Abraham Kiplimo (Bronze, Athletics), Winnie Nanyondo (Bronze, Athletics), Fazil Juma Kaggwa (Bronze, Boxing), Mike Ssekabembe (Bronze, Boxing)
2018 GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA
Joshua Cheptegei (5000m, Gold & 10000m, Gold), Stella Chesang (10000m, Gold), Meryline Chelangat (10000m Bronze), Juma Miiro (Bronze, Boxing)