KAMPALA- When dusk falls tonight, journalists under the Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) will gather at the Imperial Royale Hotel alongside active and retired sports persons to celebrate outstanding athletes of 2013.
And in one of those rare but glamorous nights, the sports scribes’ main focus will be on marathoner Stephen Kiprotich, basketball cum netball player Peace Proscovia and rally ace Jas Mangat; the prime candidates for the Nile Special Uspa Sports Personality of the Year award.
The latter pair made the 2012 shortlist and Kiprotich emerged winner of the award following his marathon gold on the final day of the London Olympics. The gold was Uganda’s first at the Olympics in 40 years.
Proscovia makes the list having led the She Cranes to the Six Nations netball title in Singapore as well as a bunch of successes at club level (NIC and UCU Canons).
Although Mangat became the sixth driver to retain the National Rally Championship (NRC) title last year, more gold at last August’s World Championships in Moscow puts Kiprotich in the front line again. “I am happy to be nominated yet again,” Kiprotich told Saturday Monitor.
“It shows that my efforts are appreciated by the country.”
The World and Olympic marathon champion is now chasing long-distance runner Moses Kipsiro and the Uganda Cranes’ record of successive Upsa titles.
Whereas the Cranes claimed two straight Cecafa titles for the 1989 and 1990 awards, Kipsiro’s 5000m World Championship bronze in Osaka, Japan earned him the 2007 nod. A year later, Kipsiro won again after a fourth-place finish at the Beijing Olympics and coming second in the World Athletics Final. He added the 2010 title to become the Uspa record winner.
But Proscovia only trusts God to beat the male pair. “By God’s mercy, I know I will win it,” she said in a recent interview. “I know I did my best in each discipline and gave my all last year,”
Of all the 28 main Uspa accolades that have been given out since 1974, half of them have gone to athletics.