Dorcus Inzikuru can afford to wear her trademark smile again. After a turbulent four years, Uganda’s most successful female athlete is back in the limelight for the right reasons.
She is returning to the top of her game, just in time for the world’s biggest sporting event – the Olympics. “When I lost form, everyone including managers and agents abandoned me,” Inzikuru said on Tuesday, a day before she left for London to compete in her second Olympics. “Life has been so difficult for me but I never gave up. I continued working hard and always believed in myself when no one did. I thank God I qualified for the Games.”
Inzikuru gave birth in 2007, months to the Beijing Olympics where she was expected to win the 3000m steeplechase gold. Since then she had failed to qualify for any big championship and beat the London 2012 qualification deadline by a whisker.
She was the last Ugandan athlete to make the grade. “It has been a long struggle,” the 2005 world 3000m steeplechase champion, said.
Inzikuru has been training in Iten, Kenya but told of how she struggled to acquire visas to travel to Europe and compete. “I was denied a visa on more than two occasions. Securing races in Europe was equally a challenge. It’s like everyone had forgotten about me,” she recalled.
The Arua Gazelle finally travelled to Germany and excelled over 3000m steeplechase at the International Athletics Bottrop Gala in Germany at the start of last month.
She won in 9:30.95, way inside the qualifying mark of 9:43.00. The 30-year-old left for London yesterday and will step on the track on Saturday for the preliminaries with the final on Monday. “I can’t promise to win a medal in London and I don’t expect any miracles. My target for now is to work hard and try to make the finals. If I get there, we’ll see what happens,” noted the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion.
Irrespective of what transpires in London, Inzzi is keen to keep her career, which has been curtailed by marital troubles, afloat. “If I do well in London, it will clear the way for me to compete in Europe again. I also have the World Championships coming next year. It’s an opportunity for me to reclaim my world title and also focus on the 2016 Olympics,” she vowed.