Going into the final day of action at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Morocco, Team Uganda’s hopes of a medal were heavily invested in Joshua Cheptegei in the 5000m final on Thursday.
But all expectations withered after the World junior 10000m Cheptegei (pic right) did not take part in the 12-and-a-half-lap race at the Stade de Marrakech.
Prior, the 17-year-old had stated his participation would be tentative owing to the high temperatures about 39°C in Marrakech.
Nonetheless, another Ugandan Thomas Ayeko finished a distant seventh after clocking 13 minutes and 51.61 seconds.
The race was won by Commonwealth champion Kenyan Caleb Ndiku who strolled home in a time of 13:34.27. Another Kenyan Isaiah Kiplangat (13:35.73) took silver while Eritrean Abrar Osman (13:36.42) got bronze.
The result means that the five-man team left North Africa for Kampala empty handed. This abysmal show is the seventh time Uganda has failed to win a medal in the competition’s 19 editions.
And questions will be posed to local body Uganda Athletics Federation as to why there was no podium finish for the first time since the 2008 edition in Addis Ababa.
“As UAF, we were tasked to prepare three teams for the World Junior Championships, Commonwealth Games and Africa Senior Champs at the same time,” UAF president Dominic Otuchet told Saturday Monitor. “…And the plan was that part of the team from Glasgow would connect to Morocco but it did not work out as planned for various reasons,” he said.
When this reporter tried to divulge into UAF’s failed plan, Otuchet declined to comment as he hang up his phone.
Only sprinter Dennis Opio, who was controversially omitted from the 400m start lists in Glasgow, made it to Marrakech. The 20-year-old advanced from the first round but did not start his semifinal heat due to unbearable temperatures.
Another sprinter Maureen Banura finished fourth at the women’s 200m semifinals while Lucy Aber finished fifth overall in the javelin final. Thomas Ayeko settled for tenth place in the 10000m.
Since the inaugural edition in 1979 Dakar, Uganda has won a total 32 medals. Sarah Nambawa is Uganda’s most successful athlete at the Championships after she defended her triple jump title in Porto Novo two years ago.
Former 400m hurdler Ruth Kyalisima is the most decorated with three silver medals (one in 100m hurdles) and a bronze.