Saturday December 23 2017

2017’s top 50 athletes unveiled

Clockwise: MARTHA BABIRYE, Patrick Kawuma,

Clockwise: MARTHA BABIRYE, Patrick Kawuma, ISABELLA BLICK, Zephaniah k. Arinaitwe and MUZAMIR MUTYABA 

By Monitor Team


The Nation Media Group’s stables in Uganda bring together a little under thirty sports journalists. These journalists cover a multiplicity of sporting disciplines and have accrued bags of experience. Over the past two months, the journalists converged to put together a list of fifty athletes whose performances in 2017 were definitive.

How the list was put together
Each journalist was asked to craft a list of 50 Ugandan athletes they think stood head and shoulders above their peers in 2017.
The list was supposed to be arranged in descending order, with number one being their best choice.

Ranking system explained
Common denominators were aggregated from each journalist’s list. The more common denominators translated into a higher ranking for the athlete in question. If athletes were level on points in the scoring, a five-strong team would be tasked to vote to provide a tiebreaker.

Mark Namanya (Daily Monitor Sports Editor), Robert Madoi (NTV Sports Editor), Fred Musisi Kyingi (Ennyanda Editor), Caesar Abangirah (Daily Monitor Deputy Sports Editor), Innocent Ndawula (Score Editor), Raul Kanyike (Ennyanda Deputy Editor/Daily Monitor Contributor) Andrew Mwanguhya (Daily Monitor Sports reporter), Patrick Kanyomozi (KFM Sports Editor), Joel Khamadi (NTV Sport Anchor), Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo (Daily Monitor sports reporter, panelist Kfm and Ntv sport), Makhtum Muziransa (Daily Monitor Sports reporter), Allan Darren Kyeyune (Daily Monitor Sports reporter), Deus Bugembe (Daily Monitor Sports reporter), Derrick Ntege (NTV Sport reporter), Sam Mpoza (NTV Sport reporter), Elvis Ssenono (Daily Monitor Sports reporter), Abdulnasser Tajudeen (Daily Monitor Sports reporter), Aminah Babirye (Daily Monitor sports photojournalist), Eddie Chicco (Daily Monitor sports photojournalist), Ismail Kezaala (Daily Monitor sports photojournalist), Dennis Bbosa (Daily Monitor Sports reporter)

Babirye wasn’t Uganda’s best performer during the sixty-seventh staging of the Uganda Ladies Open. That honour went to perennial bridesmaid Irene Nakalembe who finished two strokes behind winner Angel Eaton. Heck, Babirye wasn’t even Uganda’s second best finisher at the Open. Merlon Kyomugisha prided in that feat after a closing round 78 secured her fifth position. Babirye though was undoubtedly the revelation of the championship. She opened an improbable one-shot overall lead after playing the front nine on the Open’s final day. Unsurprising, the wheels came off on the back nine. Her collapse was not much of a shock as an inevitability. The only double handicap golfer to make the Open’s top ten, Babirye hit the ball as pure as ever during the 54-hole event. Less known, but no less remarkable was the fact that Babirye’s twin brother — Matthew Kato — carried her bag as she placed seventh in the Open. Hers was a victory for the underdog. With Flavia Namakula now figuring in the paid ranks, Babirye is expected to be the pin-up for Ugandan ladies’ amateur golf. The twenty-something doesn’t appear to be short of confidence and energy. She found herself entangled in a web mid this year after being pencilled in to play the Eskom Open in Jinja as well as Gadies and Lentlemen tournament at Kitante on the same day. She eventually figured in both tournaments and turned up victorious on both fronts! It was an amazing feat. Barring a disaster of earth-moving proportions, bigger feats beckon. (Robert Madoi)

44. Patrick Kawuma
Fide Master (FM) Patrick Kawuma was one of the favorites expected to win the Uganda Open Chess Championship. Few however would have imagined the 28 year old would go on to do it in the manner that he did. He finished unbeaten after eight rounds including wins over Kenya’s James Madol Panchol and South Sudan’s Candidate Master Rehan Cypriano Deng that had threatened to take home the title after defeating other International Master Arthur Ssegwanyi and FM Haruna Nsubuga. He followed that up with another victory in the Rwabushenyi Memorial the other notable domestic tournament this time edging FM Harold Wanyama in a tie-breaker. His exploits saw him close in on Segwanyi with a rating of 2330 making him the second seed in the East African region while the latter is at 2347 having dropped from 2373. (Elvis Senono)

The daughter of Uganda Olympic Committee President William Blick, Izzy – as she is known in MX circles – won her MX50 senior class for the third year running. Competing against boys has not fazed the youngster and she once again emerged top, outlasting the likes of Gift Ssebuguzi and Malcolm Omoding. Izzy’s has bags of experience and coolness when the pressure cooker is on, something that helped her to overcome her competitive duels with Ssebuguzi. She was without doubt the outstanding female rider of motocross. In fact she has been without equals as a female MX champion for the better part of the last three years. Izzy is sponsored by Multiple Industries and is also the brand ambassador for Jesa Yoghurt. Her best years in the sport are well ahead of her. (Mark Namanya)

The Fufa Footballer of the Year has deservedly worked himself into this list. Mutyaba was the creator-in-chief as Geoffrey Sserunkuma scored goals for fun. The midfielder, whose relationship with the ball is one of the best in the country, scored six times and contributed eight assists as KCCA claimed a first-ever league and cup double. Mutyaba was also instrumental as KCCA played in the Caf Confederation Cup group stage. To cap it all up, he helped Uganda qualify for Chan 2018. (Andrew Mwanguhya)

41. Zephaniah k. Arinaitwe
Aged just 16, Arinaitwe played with the maturity of seasoned pro. During the ICC Youth World Cup qualifiers in Nairobi, he plundered the tournament’s only century of 39 runs off 127 balls against Botswana and had a couple of 50s to finish as the Best Batsman with an aggregate of 281 runs. On the local scene, he has been toning it up on the daily for KICC as well as across the border for Vikings CC in the Rwanda Elite League, where he has bossed the runs’ charts. But all that pales in comparison with jaw-dropping century of 175 off a mere 45 balls he plundered against Rwanda Invitational in the Schools Cricket Week - he was adjudged the tourney’s Best Fielder, too! (Innocent Ndawula)