Ronald Musagala is bossing the talk in the Uganda’s athletics circles and beyond after he won his second straight race on the IAAF Diamond League (DL) Circuit on Saturday night.
The Ugandan middle-distance runner achieved this rare feat after he exuded a powerful finish to floor arguably the strongest 1500m field and win the race at the Paris DL Meet in the French capital.
By dipping in at the finish-line ahead of Djiboutian Ayanleh Souleiman, Musagala sent out a warning letter written in bold to his rivals that he will be a medal contender at next month’s Doha World Championships.
“I feel great,” Musagala told Daily Monitor an hour after equalling his own national record (NR) time of three minutes and 30.58 seconds he set at the Monaco DL Meet last month.
“I am extremely happy,” he said. And he is in some top-notch form as this was his fifth win in eight races in 2019. He had also won the 1500m race at the Birmingham DL Meet in England on August 18.
It has been a long route for Musagala who switched from 800m over two years ago.
Since shockingly breaking out by beating Moses Kipsiro in Namboole to qualify for the 2013 Moscow World Championships, he is always capable of a race final at major championships but always faded in the finish.
Steady improvements showed when he bagged 1500m bronze at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria a year ago.
“He had to go the hard way to reach where he has reached, therefore this victory is so, so sweet! He deserves all the credits for the hard work,” said Musagala’s manager Jurrie van der Velden.
Musagala will now be a name for commentators to discuss in Doha after his brilliant run under the lights at the Stade Sébastien Charléty.
“For real, God is great,” said the 26-year-old, “If I can run in Doha like I ran here, anything is possible,” said Musagala. “My target is a medal.”
By the time French pacesetter Mounir Akbache fell off after 700m, the Ugandan had been behind steadily checking the field’s pace behind Kenyan Brimin Kiprono Djiboutian, Souleiman, Ethiopian Samuel Terefa and one of the potent Ingebrigtsen brothers Filip from Norway.
When the bell rang, the pack of 13 exchanged positions with Australian Stewart McSweyn visibly ahead of Musagala.
Within a flash, Kiprono limped off then Souleiman led briefly before Terefa took as the pace amplified at 1200m. A six-man group now broke away with Musagala behind as Kenyan Bethwell Birgen led into the final stretch.
Souleiman however, regained his lead in the final corner and while Filip charged into lane 1 too, Musagala opted out of the congestion, choosing power forward in lane 3, overtaking the pair in the last 50m in stellar fashion to dip for a $10000 (Shs36m) cash prize. He scored 12 points to qualify in seventh place for the DL final worth $50000 (Shs181m) due September 6 in Brussels, Belgium.
In the women’s 800m, Musagala’s training partner Winnie Nanyondo also pocketed $4000 (Shs14.5m) after taking third place with a season best time of 1:58.83.
Ugandan teenager Albert Chemutai finished 14th in the 3000m steeplechase in 8:23.79.
MUSAGALA at a glance
Date of birth: December 16, 1992
Major races: 1500m
Personal Best: 3:30.58 (1500m)
Major Honour: 2018 Africa Senior bronze (1500m)
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden
IAAF PARIS DIAMOND LEAGUE
1 Ronald Musagala (UGA) 3:30.58
2 Ayanleh Souleiman (DJI) 3:30.66
3 Filip Ingebrigtsen (NOR) 3:31.06
1 Hanna Green (USA) 1:58.39
2 Natoya Goule (JAM) 1:58.59
3 Winnie Nanyondo (UGA) 1:58.83
MEN’S 3000M STEEPLECHASE
1 Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR) 8:06.64
2 Benjamin Kigen (KEN) 8:07.09
3 Lemecha Girma (ETH) 8:08.63
14 Albert Chemutai (UGA) 8:23.79