Nakaayi wants gold again but faces uphill task

Halima Nakaayi wants a return to the 800m final on Sunday. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

Demand for perfection. Halimah Nakaayi has built a powerful body but she will need to execute a stellar race tonight and in Sunday’s final if she is to reclaim her 800m world title. Meanwhile, Uganda for the first time has filled up its women’s marathon quota at the Worlds and they hope the numbers count on the streets of Budapest tomorrow morning.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. Halimah Nakaayi has seen it all. The middle-distance runner’s elite career has had incredible highs like the world 800m title won in Doha, Qatar four years ago.

Yet, the sad chapters of her book are well known too. Nakaayi was buried in misery after she came last in the 800m final at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England on August 6, 2022.

A year later, the story is totally different. She has bounced back smartly and will be in semi-final Heat 3 of the two-lap race here at the Budapest World Athletics Championships tonight.

“I am now a mature runner,” Nakaayi said, “I know what I want and how to get it.” Nakaayi last year struggled to deliver after the 400m mark and was often boxed.

She opted to respectfully switch from coach Addy Ruiter to Tim Rowberry and has been training with Dutch talent Sifan Hassan.

Since Thursday, Nakaayi and Hassan have backed up each other on the warm-up track outside the National Athletics Centre. Hassan won 1500m bronze but Nakaayi wants to retain her title in Sunday’s final.

“Of course, it is my dream to become a champion again,” she said. “I am really grateful that my body is responding well. So I hope to give it my best,” she added.

Nakaayi however must first go through the Heat which has Commonwealth champion Kenyan Mary Moraa as well as reigning Olympic and World champion American Athing Mu.

Only the top two advance automatically with the next two fastest across all Heats qualifying too. Nakaayi however must still jostle against other formidable rivals in the Heats such as South African Prudence Sekgodiso and Jamaican Adelle Tracey.

Meanwhile, there has been no mention of the Ugandan trio of Mercyline Chelangat, Doreen Chesang and Rebecca Cheptegei in the women’s marathon final previews across the globe.

The trio on Saturday morning will hope to surpass the odds and do the unthinkable in a very competitive field that will start and finish the 10km-looped course over the 42km distance at Heroes’ Square.



9:45pm: Halimah Nakaayi (Women’s 800m Semi-Final Heat 3)

10.50pm: Men’s 200m Final


8am: Doreen Chesang, Mercyline Chelangat, Rebecca Cheptegei (Women’s Marathon Final)

9.50pm: Women’s 5000m Final


8am: Stephen Kissa, Victor Kiplangat, Andrew Kwemoi (Men’s Marathon Final)

9.20pm: Men’s 5000m Final

9.45pm: Women’s 800m Final

10.05pm: Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Final