The global disruptions and changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic have left just a handful of people meet their 2020 targets.
Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) feel they deserve a place among those chosen few, at least according president Dominic Otuchet.
“2020 for athletics in Uganda, I sum it as a successful year amidst Covid-19,” he told Daily Monitor at their head offices yesterday.
Much of the delight has come from global sensation Joshua Cheptegei who broke three long-distance running world records (WRs) and then debutant Jacob Kiplimo who scooped the World Half-Marathon title in Gdynia, Poland last month. “We have three world records, and it has never happened before. Then you have Kiplimo win all his races in the year,” Otuchet stated.
Overall, Uganda scooped nine national records from five runners Cheptegei (5km, 5000m and 10000m), Kiplimo (21km), Sarah Chelangat (5000m), Halimah Nakaayi (1000m) and Juliet Chekwel (42km and 21km) in a year with very little activity.
Bar the World Half-Marathon where Uganda won a men’s team gold, other global championships like the World Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, the World U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, the Tokyo Olympics in Japan and Africa Cross-country Championships were all postponed.
Back home, UAF managed to stage just two events; the National Half-Marathon Championships in Jinja on February 23 and the first National Trials in Namboole on March 7.
UAF yesterday launched their road map to the Tokyo Olympics beginning the National Mountain Running Championships set for November 28 in Kapchorwa.
Already 21 athletes have qualified for Tokyo but due to the pandemic, the qualification window has been pushed by World Athletics with a new period beginning December 1, 2020 - May 31, 2021.
A list of 15 local competitions and four international events have been lined-up over track and field to help more athletes qualify and prepare for Tokyo.
“I have made a direct appeal to athletes to train while maintaining social distancing and other SOPs because the pandemic is still there,” added Otuchet.
Uganda’s last two Olympic medals have come from athletics; sprinter Davis Kamoga’s 400m bronze at Atlanta 1996 Games and Stephen Kiprotich’s marathon gold at the 2012 London Games.
UGANDA’S HAUL IN 2020
World Records: Joshua Cheptegei (5km, 5000m, 10000m)
National Records: Joshua Cheptegei (5km, 5000m, 10000m),
Jacob Kiplimo: (3000m and 21km),
Halimah Nakaayi (1000m),
Sarah Chelangat (5000m),
Juliet Chekwel (21km and 42km)