What you need to know:
- 9, Two Golds: Uganda finished ninth in the overall medal table standings at the Doha 2019 World Championships thanks to two gold medals by Joshua Cheptegei (10000m) and Halimah Nakaayi (800m).
If one searched about the women’s 10000m race, they would struggle to find anything related to Ugandans.
The forecast for the 25-lap final at the World Athletics Championships here tonight has been put on defending champion Dutch girl Sifan Hassan.
There is hardly a mention of Uganda’s competitors Mercyline Chelangat or Stella Chesang. The latter won the Commonwealth title while Chelangat took bronze at the Gold Coast in Australia.
Four years later, both are mothers and had long sabbaticals. Chelangat bounced back last to qualify for both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan last August as well as a trip to Eugene.
Chesang wasn’t back to shape by the time the Tokyo Games happened but she has had an incredible comeback too by producing a personal best of 31 minutes and 13.72 seconds as Great Britain’s Eilish McColgan won in a world lead time of 30:19.02 during the FBK Hengelo Games in the Netherlands on June 6 to qualify for Eugene.
“She’s always been very committed,” Chesang’s manager Jurrie van der Velden explained her bounce back.
‘Looking for speed’
Kenya-based Chesang, 25, had earlier beaten a strong field to win the Cape Town 10K in South Africa on May 15 with a national record time of 30:39 minutes.
Both Ugandans are optimistic ahead of the final where Hassan bids to retain the world title she won at the Doha 2019 edition in Qatar.
“I have a lot of endurance, the only thing I am looking for is speed,” Chelangat said coming second behind Prisca Chesang over the 5000m during the National Championships in Namboole last month.
Meanwhile, Hassan is looking to become the second woman in history to retain this title after Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba won at the editions of Helsinki 2005 in Finland and Osaka 2007 in Japan.
However, the 29-year-old had a lot of fatigue from the Tokyo Olympics last August and she will need to wade off the challenge of Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey, who broke her world record of 29:06.32 to 29:01.03 in a space of two years in Hengelo 13 months ago.
Gidey won bronze in Tokyo as Hassan took gold and in Doha, the 24-year-old took silver.
World 5000m silver medalist Kenyan Hellen Obiri is another challenger for Hassan.
In the early hours of tomorrow, Ronald Musagala will go for the men’s 1500 Heats, after months of slow but steady recovery from a terrible leg problem.
He posted a season best of 3:35.60 during the Night of Athletics in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium on July 2 and the 29-year-old hopes to break the jinx and make a championship final for the first time despite debuting at the Moscow 2013 stage in Russia.