KAMPALA- A large number of sports federations felt the pinch when National Council of Sports (NCS) sized down its contingent to 96 athletes and officials for the forthcoming 12th African Games in Morocco.
Athletics won the biggest share of 30 slots (27 athletes and three officials) but it still wasn’t enough as 51 athletes had met the qualification grades for the continental Games.
With four national records split over the one-mile run and 1500m this year, Winnie Nanyondo had been among Uganda Athletics Federation’s prime choices for the trip north.
But the middle-distance runner opted out. Instead, Nanyondo is concentrating on featuring in the lucrative IAAF Diamond League (DL) 1500m final later this month.
“I will not be going to Morocco,” Nanyondo confirmed to this paper early this week. She had been a medal hopeful for the country at the Games considering that she has run the sixth fastest time over 1500m amongst Africans this year.
In Morocco, athletics will be held at Stade Olympique - Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah from August 26-30. However, the Games’ opening ceremony is on Monday.
The women’s 1500m final on the DL will be held at Zurich Meet in Switzerland on August 29.
“I chose the Diamond League final because it is more competitive,” said the runner, who turns 26 in six days’ time.
“Most of the top competitors will be in Zurich and that is what I need in preparation for the Doha World Championships,” Nanyondo explained.
A winner of any discipline at DL final, like for Nanyondo in Zurich, takes up to $50,000 (Shs185m), a spectacular Diamond Trophy as well as a wild card to the Doha Worlds due September 27 - October 6.
For an elite athlete to qualify for a DL event final, one must have scored points during the previous Meets enough to be in the top rankings per discipline.
Nanyondo, who came third in Shanghai, sixth with a NR of 3:59.56 in Rabat, fifth in Eugene and fourth in London, has scored 16 points so far.
The Ugandan so far pocketed $11500 (Shs42m) in prize money and she is tied with Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba in fifth place.
Another Ethiopian pair of Gudaf Tsegay and Axumawit Embaye as well as Moroccan Rabade Arafi who are ranked in the top ten are expected in Zurich rather than the quadrennial Games.
Nanyondo’s training partner Halimah Nakaayi is tied with Swede Lovisa Lindh with four points in tenth place in the 800m but the top eight are considered the final at the Brussels Meet on September 6 in Belgium.
Another Ugandan Peruth Chemutai has scored eight points in three events and is ranked seventh in the DL over the 3000m steeplechase whose final is for Zurich.
Joshua Cheptegei has scored 14 points in three events and is ranked fourth in the 5000m whose final is in Zurich.