Historic bronze redefines Nakaayi

Victory parade. Nakaayi and American Wilson celebrate after their medal finishing on Sunday. PHOTO/AGENCIES

What you need to know:

  • A powerful kick in the penultimate 100m helped Nakaayi secure a bronze medal in a time of two minutes and 66 micro-seconds on the maroon tartan.

Halimah Nakaayi is looking to a brighter year after landing a historic podium finish at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in the Serbian capital of Belgrade at the weekend.

Nakaayi furnished her plans of defending her 800m world title later in July by finishing third in the 800m final at the Stark Arena on Sunday night.

A powerful kick in the penultimate 100m helped Nakaayi secure a bronze medal in a time of two minutes and 66 micro-seconds on the maroon tartan.

“I give the glory to the Almighty God and I’m very happy,” Nakaayi said by phone from Belgrade after receiving her medal from World Athletics council member Adille Sumariwalla.

Her bronze is Uganda’s first medal of any kind in the history of the world indoor championship. 

“To win a second medal in a world championship is a big thing! She made me so happy,” her manager Jurrie van der Velden explained his delight.

“Great result. She showed that her world title was not an incident,” said her coach Addy Ruiter.

Nakaayi is Uganda’s most decorated woman athlete with 800m bronze from the African Games to add to the 800m silver from the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.

Prior to Belgrade, Nakaayi won three of her five races and broke her 800m national indoor record thrice in a row – including the fourth fastest time this year.

She survived a scare when she finished outside the two automatic qualifying places in her Heat in 2:01.47 on Saturday.

On Sunday though, Nakaayi knew the impact of her display, starting strongly behind Jamaican Natoya Goule for 500m until American Ajee Wilson took over.

Wilson broke away, Nakaayi gave chase and although Ethiopian Freweyni Hailu charged through, Nakaayi was safe for bronze. Wilson, who took silver at the Portland 2016 and Birmingham 2018 editions, won gold in 1:59.09 while Haili got silver in 2:00.54. 

“It has been a good race but so tactical. It’s a great motivation,” added Nakaayi.

“To win bronze after two difficult years really was a delivered crown for her hard work,” Jurrie stated. “I think this indoor season she gained essential experience which will help her to further develop.”

Nakaayi embarks on preparation for her 800m title defence in Oregon in July.

World Indoor Championships

Women's 800m final
1.Ajee Wilson    USA    1:59.09
2.Freweyni Hailu     ETH    2:00.54
3.Halimah Nakaayi     UGA    2:00.66

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