KAMPALA- Uganda’s athletics medal chances will now fall to less experienced individuals after middle-distance runner Ronald Musagala also backed out of the African Games.
Musagala joins other elite runners like training partner Winnie Nanyondo and World Cross-country champion Joshua Cheptegei who have instead opted to concentrate on preparations for next month’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Tonight, Musagala will intensify his preparations for Doha when he lines-up in a 19-man field for the 1500m race at the IAAF Paris Diamond League (DL) Meet.
The Ugandan arrives at the Stade Sébastien Charléty in the French capital having won the 1500m at the Birimingham DL Meet in England last Sunday with a time of 3:35.12 minutes.
The victory was greeted with much delight in athletics circles but to the bookmakers and his Dutch manager Jurrie van Velden, it had been expected as none in that field had run faster than him this year.
“It was a good effort, of course, we need to be realistic, and it was a non-DL (not scoring) event. But still, to win such race any day is good,” said Jurrie.
With athletics at the Games beginning Monday in Morocco, Musagala instead faces a real test in Paris tonight.
Musagala’s 2019 report card is adorable with four wins, no finish beyond fifth and two national records (NR) in seven 1500m races.
His current personal best and NR time of 3:30.58 is the third fastest time over the distance in the world this year.
In Paris, he faces one of the two who have run faster than him this year; Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigsten (3:30.16). Kenyan Timothy Cheruyiot (3:28.77) opted out.
“Musagala has shown being capable winning ‘smaller’ races. He now needs to do so at the highest level,” stated Jurrie.
The race, which also acts Musagala’s last qualifier to DL final due September 6 in Brussels, Belgium, has him face Kenyan Ferguson Cheruyiot, European Indoor champion Polish Marcin Lewandowski.
Also in the fray is 800m Arab champion Djiboutian Ayanleh Souleiman whom Musagala beat to 1500m bronze at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria a year ago.
Another Ugandan Nanyondo will use feature in the women’s 800m purposely for speed as she gears for the 1500m DL final in Zurich, Switzerland next week.
Teenager Albert Chemutai has room to lower his PB below 8:12.29 in the 3000m steeplechase.
Men’s 1500m: Ronald Musagala
Women’s 800m: Winnie Nanyondo
Men’s 3000m Steeplechase: Albert Chemutai
LIVE ON SS9, 9PM