Yesterday marked that time of the year when local sports journalists under their umbrella body, Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA), gather to nominate and appreciate outstanding sports personalities of the last twelve months from various disciplines.
At the peak of the process, a three man list of track stars Joshua Cheptegei, Halimah Nakaayi and footballer Emmanuel Okwi from which the best performer of the 2019 will be derived and recognised at the Nile Special USPA gala in March.
“We want to recognise the best athletes, they put in a lot of hard work and deserve the plaudits,” said USPA president Patrick Kanyomozi. “We are also celebrating 50yrs of existence as a body and we need to create the buzz,” added Kanyomozi who was voted into power in 2018.
Of the lot, Cheptegei, USPA male athlete of 2019, is odds on favourite to land the USPA personality of the year for the second year running. The long distance runner started 2019 with Gold in the World Cross Country champion in Aarhus, Denmark. He then race the race of his life at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha to win Gold in the 10,000m men’s finals. He also landed another milestone in breaking the 10km road world record in Valencia in December. With such a rewarding year, it becomes impossible for the 23 year old to miss out on the big award.
Nakaayi who also won Gold in 800m at Worlds in Doha after finishing third in the same distance in Morocco, Rabat at the All African Games in August also had a memorable year which saw her voted USPA female athlete of the year. Okwi, the last of trio was Uganda Cranes top scorer at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with two goals which helped propel Cranes to the last 16. He also led Simba S.C to the Tanzanian league title with 18 goals and eight assists. That 2019 CV has already won him the USPA male footballer of the 2019 but he will have to fend off stiff competition from Cheptegei and Nakaayi for the big one.
2019 USPA awards
sports personalities of 2019
Overall Sports Personality nominees:
Joshua Cheptegei, Halima Nakaayi &
Emmanuel Arnold Okwi
Athletics: J. Cheptegei & H. Nakaayi
Badminton: Daniel Muhigo & Aisha
Bodybuilding: Isaac Mubikirwa
Boxing: David Ssemujju
Chess: Harold Wanyama & Maria
Cricket: Shazad Kamal & Janet
Football: Emmanuel Okwi & Juliet
Darts: Patrick Ochieng & Sarah
Ludo: Tom Kasozi
Kickboxing: Patricia Apolot
Woodball: Brian Gwaaka & Denise
Weight-lifting: Zubair Kubo
Handball: Ibrahim Kongo & Lillian
Rugby: Pius Ogena & Samiya Iyikoru
Volleyball: Daudi Okello & Grace Akiror
Netball: Stellah Oyella
Motocross: Gift Ssebuguzi (minor).
Rally: Yasin Nasser & Ali Katumba
Tennis: Troy Zziwa
Swimming: Tendo Mukalazi & Kirabo
Squash: Ian Rukunya
Hockey: Emmanual Baguma & Norah
Golf: Joseph Cwinyaii & Martha Babirye
Basketball: James Okello & Hope Akello
Awards dinner date to be confirmed in