Nakaayi skips indoors to focus on Olympics

Saturday January 23 2021
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Mission Olympics. After her sensational run to a world title in 2019, Nakaayi is targeting an Olympic medal in Tokyo. PHOTO/AFP

By Allan Darren Kyeyune

World 800m champion Halimah Nakaayi and her team have intensified focus on preps for the Tokyo Olympic Games where she bids to win Uganda’s first medal in middle distance.
The postponement of the Tokyo Games because of the coronavirus pandemic affected several runners, especially in Sebei districts of Kapchorwa and Bukwo, so much that some temporarily or gave up on running.

Only a handful, including Halimah Nakaayi, managed to have races abroad in the wake of the Covid-19 restrictions and cancellation of several other events.
Then, Nakaayi was only a few months old as the world 800m champion, a feat achieved at the Doha World Championships in September, 2019.

But with that steam now condensed, her Dutch management Global Sports Communication (GSC) has prioritised the Tokyo Games, which opens July 23 to August 8.
Part of that plan involves her skipping the World Indoors Tour so as to solely focus on the Olympics.
“We decided in the case of Nakaayi to focus on the Olympic Games,” her coach Addy Ruiter told SCORE. “She is already training for a month in Kapchorwa and will stay here till the end of April.”

It means that she will miss the Indoor Tour that has legs set for Germany town Karlsruher next Saturday, Boston in USA on February 6, French town Lievin on February 9, New York City on February 13, Torun in Poland on February 17 and Madrid in Spain on February 24.
Uganda has never won an Olympic medal over the middle-distance but in order for Nakaayi to grab that slice of history, GSC intends to move her to their base in the Netherlands in early May.

This shift to Europe, some 83 days before Tokyo Games open, will be done in time for the elite DL circuit that begins in Moroccan capital Rabat on May 23.
Nakaayi did nine races at the top stage mainly in Europe and 14 overall in 129 days, including a bronze at the African Games, before winning gold in Doha.
This would best explain why GSC wants to repeat the same preparation script.

Athletes qualified for Tokyo Games so far
Halima Nakaayi    800m
Winnie Nanyondo    800m, 1500m
Peruth Chemutai    3000m Stpchase
Stella Chesang     5000m
Sarah Chelangat    5000m
Juliet Chekwel    Marathon
Ronald Musagala    1500m
Stephen Kissa    5000m
Joshua Cheptegei    10000m
Abdallah Mande    10000m
Albert Chemutai    3000m Stpchase


*Fred Musobo, Stephen Kiprotich, Solomon Mutai, Filex Chemonges, Geoffrey Kusuro, Jackson Kiprop & Robert Chemonges (all Marathon)
*Only three can compete