Only four local sports federations have applied for the 2016 Olympic Games scholarships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Applications for the Olympic Solidarity scholarships under which selected athletes are given $1,300 (about Shs3.3m) for training per month, opened six months ago.
“I think you are being unfair to your athletes,” German technical expert Gunter Lange told federation officials attending the second National Sports Development Action Plan workshop at Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) premises last week. “The money is there but you don’t want to utilise it.”
Of the 18 federations attached to UOC, only badminton, rowing, swimming and archery are the only federations that have sent applications to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“It makes me sad to learn that Uganda has been missing out on these scholarships for many years. Yet we all know that success in sport is a result of preparation, organisation and training but not luck,” Lange, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) senior manager, added.
The Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF), which the German closely works with, stands higher chances of sending many runners on the scheme but he is surprised they are also reluctant to apply. “There are several top runners in Uganda who have all the credentials for the scholarships. For instance, if I received an application of Winnie (Nanyondo), I wouldn’t even waste time scrutinizing it,” he said.
Only in her first year as a senior runner, Nanyondo has won two major medals (World University Championships gold and 800m Commonwealth Games bronze) this season. She also lowered the 800m national record to 1:58.63 while competing at the Monaco Diamond League last month.
UOC secretary general Dr Donald Rukare, whose office receives the scholarship applications from federations before forwarding them to IOC, also expressed his disappointment while closing the three-day workshop.
“We have sent you several reminders but it’s a shame that most of you don’t want to act. Kindly expedite this process for the betterment of our athletes,” noted Dr Rukare. Some Ugandan sportsmen like badminton player Edwin Ekiring and runner Moses Kipsiro have previously benefitted from the scholarships. UAF, however, scrapped Kipsiro off the scheme in the build-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
-Each federation sends applications of their top athletes to UOC
-UOC forwards the applications to IOC, which then does the selections
-The successful applicants are then facilitated with $1,300 per month for training till the Games
-After the Games, new applicants are invited
-Previous beneficiaries can apply and be considered again