Cheptegei, Onyango face off for 2018 Uspa award

Friday April 5 2019

World champion. Cheptegei is seen as

World champion. Cheptegei is seen as overwhelming favourite tonight. COURTESY PHOTO 

By Darren Allan Kyeyune

Uganda’s sports fraternity will yet again converge to reward the best athletes of 2018 at the annual Nile Special Uspa Awards gala at Imperial Royale Hotel tonight.

On the evening set to be themed by African wear or black tie dress code, Education and Sports Minister Hon. Janet Museveni is expected to be the chief guest.

And she is expected to crown either goal keeper Denis Onyango, netballer Lillian Ajio, rugby player Phillip Wokorach or long-distance runner Joshua Cheptegei as the 2018 Uspa Sports Personality of the Year.

This shortlist was announced in mid-January by the Patrick Kanyomozi-led executive that leads the sports journalists’ umbrella body Uspa.

The quartet’s expectations were recently raised by the new Fans’ Choice Sports Personality of the Year honour where non-Uspa members can choose 2018’s best via www.uspa.press.

Wokorach was in the lead here by press time and hopes to win the big award having failed on the previous two nominations for Onyango in 2016 and para-athlete David Emong in 2017.

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Divine hope
“I believe I did my part and the fans are also doing their part so the rest will be left in the hands of God. May His will be done,” said Wokorach who guided his club Kabras Sugar to the Kenya 15s league title and the Enterprise Cup finals.
For Samurai franchise, he was MVP and top scorer at the Amsterdam 7s in Netherlands.

Wokorach as well scored most points for Uganda in the Africa Gold Cup and was the highest African try scorer at the 7s World Cup in San Francisco, USA. At the 2016 gala, Onyango beat Wokorach and Emong to the top prize.

He is eyeing a second gong here having made it to the Caf Best XI of 2018 and also guided the Uganda Cranes to the Africa Cup of Nations finals due June in Egypt.

“Well personally, I am really honoured to be part of this history and being nominated for the second time,” Onyango remarked early this year.
“It is an honour to be competing with great athletes in the country who have really done well in their respective sports for their clubs and country at large.

It’s a very tough challenge at the moment and I believe anyone can win the award at this moment,” added the Mamelodi Sundowns shot-stopper.
But Cheptegei is as well eager to win the top prize.

Whereas his recent triumph at the World Cross-country Championships in Denmark last Saturday doesn’t count, he stood out because of his Commonwealth 5000m and 10000m double on the Gold Coast in Australia last year.

“For me I think I was the best in 2018,” stated Cheptegei who flew in from Netherlands last night for the gala.
“The achievements of 2018 especially at Commonwealth Games give me a chance. If it (main award) comes to me, it will be really well deserving,” added the man who also broke the 15km world record back in November.

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