Olympics hat-trick for Ugandan quintet

Cheptegei is Uganda's biggest hope in Paris. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

Athletics is expectedly the leading discipline for Uganda with 21 names entered. Cyclist Charles Kagimu, rower US-based Kathleen Noble and swimming pair of Jesse Sengonzi and Gloria Muzito complete the list. 

 It is not a guarantee that Uganda will better their tally of four medals from the Tokyo 2020 Games when the hunt intensifies at the Paris 2024 Olympics in France later this month.

But the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) at least did the harder job first. The Donald Rukare-led body once again hit the mark of 25 athletes, like in Tokyo, who will represent the country at the anticipated Paris Games. 

The tally was met again after a communication from UOC media officer John Barnes Ssentamu released a final list of prospective competitors with Belinda Chemutai being the final addition. She will race in the women’s 5000m event.

Athletics is expectedly the leading discipline for Uganda with 21 names entered. Cyclist Charles Kagimu, rower US-based Kathleen Noble and swimming pair of Jesse Sengonzi and Gloria Muzito complete the list. 

The latter two were named last week, after wading off competition from Tendo Mukalazi and Kirabo Namutebi respectively via the universality slots. 

It further means Uganda will have competitors in the pool at the Olympics for the seventh successive edition of the Games, stretching back to Joe Atuhaire and Supra Singhal at the Sydney 2000 Games in Australia. 

Back to the track and field, Uganda’s biggest medal hopes lay here; in Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo and Peruth Chemutai who are hoping to claim more silverware. 

Cheptegei plans to end his track career with the 10000m gold, which eluded him under beaming conditions of an empty Tokyo Stadium three years ago in the Japanese capital. 

The three-time reigning 10000m world champion Cheptegei settled for silver but went on to win the 5000m Olympic gold. 

Kiplimo, now a reigning two-time World Cross-country champion, won a 10000m bronze medal in Tokyo and wants to improve that.

There are minimal plans for Cheptegei to do a double, and he may only be triggered to do the 5000m race in case he misses the 25-lap Olympic title again. 

Peruth meanwhile, will enter Paris on cloud nine, hoping to retain her Olympic 3000m steeplechase title, after posting the fastest time over the distance in the world this year of 8:55.09 minutes. 

The trio alongside middle-distance runners Halimah Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo, will make three Olympic appearances in a row built from the Rio 2016 Games in Brazil, a rare achievement for any Ugandan athlete. 

In the recent past, marathoner Stephen Kiprotich and deceased steeplechaser Benjamin Kiplagat have achieved that Olympics hat-trick feat. Kiplagat featured at the Beijing 2008 Games in China up to Rio 2016 Games in Brazil while Kiprotich made a three-peat from London 2012 to Tokyo. 

Athletics is also presenting a male sprinter - 200m ace Tarsis Orogot - at the Games for the first time since Davis Kamoga won 400m bronze at the Atlanta 1996 Games. 

Rower Noble is back for her second straight Olympics, alongside runners Oscar Chelimo, Stephen Kissa, Esther Chebet, Sarah Chelangat and Mercyline Chelangat. 

Then, Africa Games gold medalist Kagimu will be Uganda’s only third cyclist in Olympics history and the first in 40 years after Ernest Buule and Muharud Mukasa who raced but didn’t finish the men’s race during the Los Angeles 1984 Games in the USA. 

2024 OLYMPICS NOTEBOOK

Host city: Paris, France

City Hosting: 3rd (1900, 1924, 2024)

Motto: Ouvrons grand les Jeux (Games wide open)

Events: 329 in 32 sports

Dates: Jul 26 - Aug 11, 2024

Team Uganda Contingent: 35 competitors (projected)

UOC Sponsors: Nile Special, Plascon, Sanlam, UTB, French Embassy in Uganda

Opening Ceremony: Jardins du Trocadéro and the Seine

Closing Ceremony: Stade de France

TEAM UGANDA TO PARIS 2024 GAMES

Athletics: Tarsis Orogot (200m), Tom Dradriga (800m), Oscar Chelimo (5000m), Jacob Kiplimo (5000m & 10000m), Joshua Cheptegei (5000m & 10000m), Martin Magengo Kiprotich (10000m), Leonard Chemutai (3000m steeplechase), Victor Kiplangat, Stephen Kissa and Andrew Rotich Kwemoi (All Marathon), Halimah Nakaayi (800m), Winnie Nanyondo (1500m), Sarah Chelangat (5000m & 10000m), Joy Cheptoyek (5000m & 10000m), Belinda Chemutai & Esther Chebet (5000m), Annet Chemengich Chelangat (10000m), Peruth Chemutai (3000m steeplechase), Stella Chesang, Mercyline Chelangat, and Rebecca Chelangat (All Marathon)

Cycling: Charles Kagimu (Men’s Road Race)

Rowing: Kathleen Grace Noble (Women’s Single Sculls)

Swimming: Gloria Muzito (100m Freestyle), Jesse Ssengonzi (100m Butterfly)

TEAM UGANDA COACHES

Cycling: Ssaka Bukenya (tentative)

Rowing: Prof. J, Batenda Nakisozi

Swimming: Tony Kasujja

Athletics: Benjamin Njia, Peter Chelangat, Grace Chesang, Faustino Kiwa, Paul Okello, Adrianus Ruiter

UGANDA AT THE OLYMPICS

Games: 15 games in 13 countries

Events: 59 distinct events in 9 sports

Participants: 178 (150 men and 27 women)

Youngest Participant: Charles Lubulwa (15 years, 206 days), Moscow 1980

Oldest Participant: Elly Kitamireke (41 years, 16 days), Munich 1972

Most medals (Athlete): Leo Rwabwogo (2 medals)

Note: Excludes Tokyo 2020 stats

UGANDA’S MEDALS AT OLYMPICS

1968 Mexico City: Eridadi Mukwanga (Bantamweight Silver)

1968 Mexico City: Leo Rwabwogo (Flyweight Bronze)

1972 Munich: John Akii-Bua (400m Hurdles Gold)

1972 Munich: Leo Rwabwogo (Flyweight Silver)

1980 Moscow: John Mugabi (Welterweight Silver)

1996 Atlanta: Davis Kamoga (400m Bronze)

2012 London: Stephen Kiprotich (Marathon Gold)

2020 Tokyo: Joshua Cheptegei (10000m Silver)

2020 Tokyo: Jacob Kiplimo (10000m Bronze)

2020 Tokyo: Peruth Chemutai (3000m Steeplechase Gold)

2020 Tokyo: Joshua Cheptegei (5000m Gold)