KAMPALA- For a man, who secured his ticket to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics as early as last year, there is no surprise Ronald Musagala did not dominate headlines in the run-up to the Games.
The 23-year-old ensured his place on the Ugandan team travelling to Rio on August 7 was intact when he posted his personal best of 3:35.02 in 1500m at the FBK-Games in Hengelo, Netherlands May 2015.
Apart from bouts of fever that had him admitted in hospital for two weeks in May, most of the headlines associated with him came from two athletes at the National Championships at Namboole early this month.
First it was Thomas Ayeko (10000m), who hit the qualifying mark for Olympics although four other Ugandans edged him out of Rio after posting lower times, and then Halima Nakaayi (800m), who also ran the Games standard to make the grade.
In doing so, Ayeko and Nakaayi became the first Ugandans to qualify for a major event on home soil since 2013, when Musagala (800m) made it for the World Championships in Moscow - ending Julius Achon’s 17-year record in the process.
At the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow three years ago, Musagala ran 1:46.12 to finish second in his heat and seventh overall to make the semis.
Here, he improved by over a second to post 1:45.87 but could not beat the fiercely competitive field to the final.
The middle distance runner has since finished 14th in 800m and 11th in 1500m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and stopped in the first round of the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China – also in 1500m.
That forgettable turnout in Beijing could not land him a ticket to Brazil, but the prized flight to a possible medal in South America was later confirmed in Hengelo, Musagala setting a 1500m national record with his personal best of 3:35.02.
It is the same race the Iganga-born athlete will run in Rio and he hopes the hard work since last December pays off.
“The body feels free now,” he tells Daily Monitor at Namboole, “I’m regaining sharpness after my problems with malaria and typhoid. Now I feel lighter.
“I have been working on my endurance, speed, and acceleration and the body is accepting.”
Musagala is surely not lost on lessons from previous races. “I’m more experienced than in Beijing,” he says, “And most of the runners I will face in Rio I have competed against them before and I know them.
“I did not leave the first round in Beijing (1500m); I reached semis in Moscow (800m), now I must get into the final of 1500m. That is my first target and after that we shall see.”
Musagala also qualified in the 5000m but he has decided to concentrate on the 1500m.