KAMPALA- After bagging five medals, many would have expected a huge and warm reception for Team Uganda when they returned from the just-concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
But that tally, the highest at the Games since 1974 when the country collected nine in Christchurch, New Zealand, was not well recognised as only a handful of people turned up at the Entebbe International Airport to welcome the nation’s medallists.
With a persistent drizzle, the return of Uganda’s contingent from Glasgow was unlike when Stephen Kiprotich returned with marathon gold at the 2012 London Olympics and last year’s Moscow World Championships.
Nonetheless, Moses Kipsiro, who won the country’s only gold medal after he became the first runner to defend the 10,000m title a week ago, took most attention once the athletes began to disembark the Fly Emirates Airbus A340-500 that touched down at a quarter past one o’clock.
“I am happy to return home with this medal,” Kipsiro told Daily Monitor moments later.
When many had written him off and didn’t him expect to win anything, the 27-year-old put up a final 400m blockbuster finish to win the 25-lap race and ensure Uganda finished in 18th position overall - fifth in Africa.
Poor form coupled with a troublesome knee and bickering with Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) after he had blown the lid off the sexual harrassments allegations by coach Peter Wemali during Team Uganda’s preparations for the Africa Cross-country Championships in Bukwo back in March, had all threatened to deny him a ticket to Glasgow.
“Why do people write others off just like that?” a bitter Kipsiro queried as the skies opened up. “Do they know what we (athletes) go through or those who brought us up?”
Upon taking 23 steps down the plane, Kipsiro together with the four bronze medalists 800m runner Winnie Nanyondo, boxers Fazil Juma Kaggwa and Mike Ssekabembe, and marathoner Abraham Kiplimo, led out Team Uganda and were first welcomed by sports ministers Jessica Alupo and Charles Bakkabulindi.
Kipsiro then hugged his enchanted parents Alfred and Florence Mutai.
“You are very welcome,” Bakabulindi told the athletes, “We commend you for your efforts.”
“We commend you for your efforts and I want to assure you that the government is fully committed to supporting sports even if you don’t see it many times,” he added before announcing a welcome dinner at Imperial Royale Hotel last evening.
Prior, Kipsiro, who is an athlete under the umbrella of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), had inspected a UWA guard of honour before a 16-man convoy led the contingent to Kampala.
Along the way, four cars collided at Sseguku but no one was injured.