Shida Leni is hoping to break individual and the nation’s barriers to become the first Ugandan sprinter at the Olympics in 13 years.
Leni needs to beat the 51.35 seconds qualifying mark over 400m before June 29 to secure a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
A move to achieve that goal has seen Leni move to Europe for more competitive races arranged by her British manager Jeffrey Freeman.
“Yeah, I am here for two things: to qualify for the Games by beating the time and to maintain my world ranking,” Leni said from Austrian capital Vienna yesterday.
“So, with tough and competitive races, it will be good for me,” remarked the 26-year-old.
Two years ago, in the Qatari capital of Doha, Leni became the first Ugandan sprinter to feature at the World Championships since Davis Kamoga scooped 400m silver at the 1997 Athens edition.
Leni’s quest in Europe to be in Tokyo since Justine Bayiga competed in 400m at the 2008 Beijing Games in China began with mixed feelings on Saturday.
She easily won the lap race during the Midsummer Track Night Meeting at Vienna Athletics Centre in Austria in a time of 53.01 seconds but, it is still far from her desire.
“I won it though it was too windy and cold with drizzles,” she said.
“Shida ran in a low-key meeting and it was a good shake-out opportunity for her. While her time was somewhat off her best, that’s not unusual after such a long travel,” said Freeman.
Leni, whose personal best time is 51.47, will have another test at the Castiglione Della Pescaia in Italy on Wednesday.
Midsummer Track Night
Women's 400m results
1.Shida Leni UGA 53:01
2.Nikola Bisova CZE 55:11
3.Lena Pressler AUT 55:60