Podium in Silesia finely sets up Nakaayi for Budapest

World Champion and Uganda Wildlife Authority Athletics Club runner Halima Nakaayi competes in the 1500m during third national trials at Namboole. PHOTO/EDDIE CICCO

What you need to know:

In the zone. After several attempts at it, Nakaayi finally got the monkey off her back to become the first Ugandan woman to run the 800m under a minute and 58 seconds. The 2019 world champion broke her own national record to 1:57.78 for a good frame ahead of the Budapest Worlds next month.

Things are falling in the right place at the right time for Halimah Nakaayi.

With exactly a month to the Budapest World Athletics Championships set for the Hungarian capital, the middle-distance runner has found a new yet vital gear.

Nakaayi on Sunday showed that she will be in medal conversation once again at the Worlds after she produced her fastest 800m race in four years at the Silesia Diamond League Meeting in Poland.

She powered to a new personal best (PB) and inevitably broke her own national record (NR) for a third time by clocking a time of one minute and 57.78 seconds at Stadion Śląski in Chorzów.

“Alhamdulillah, I am so happy,” Nakaayi said yesterday morning. Breaking the 1:58-minute barrier had proven to be tedious with Nakaayi posted under 1:59 ten times since 2018.

She however was patient and expected the times to lower. “Yes, I have been waiting for this moment for so long, but I know God’s timing is always the best,” she reacted.

So what did she do right? “I ran my best,” the 2019 world champion said. And the feeling is good for Nakaayi, her Dutch managers Jurrie van der Velden and Valentijn Trouw as well as American coach Tim Rowberry.

Since winning the world 800m gold with a time of 1:58.04 in Qatari capital Doha in 2019, Nakaayi has now bettered that time just twice. First, 1:58.03 on July 9, 2021 and then on Sunday.

Rowberry, who also coaches Dutch girl Sifan Hassan in the US state of Utah, still handles Nakaayi through a program even though the latter has stayed in Nijmegen, Netherlands for training.

Nakaayi’s tactics have improved since she wobbled to sorry failures at the Oregon Worlds in the USA and then the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England last summer.

On Sunday, she still hit the front early and hung on with the group comprising eventual winner Mary Moraa of Kenya. Pace maker Aneta Lemiesz took them through the first lap in a time of 57.0 seconds.

Nakaayi maintained second place, showcasing her power and strong kick behind Moraa before posting the third fastest time of the year.

Moraa, who won in a meeting record time of 1:56.85, is now the second fastest this year. Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson is the fastest 800m female runner in 2023 having posted 1:55.77 at the Paris DL in France on July 9.

The trio could meet again this weekend.



1 Mary Moraa (KEN)                         1:56.85

2 Halimah Nakaayi (UGA)               1:57.78

3 Natoya Goule-Toppin (JAM)           1:57.90


1 Freweyni Hailu (ETH)                     8:26.61

2 Lilian Rengeruk (KEN)                   8:27.80

3 Lemlem Hailu (ETH)                       8:29.43

6 Sarah Chelangat (UGA)                8:35.82



1:55.77 by Keely Hodgkinson (GBR) on Jun 9, 2023

1:56.85 by Mary Moraa (KEN) on Jul 16, 2023

1:57.78 by Halimah Nakaayi (UGA) on Jul 16, 2023


Jul 17, 1989 - 2:02.95 by Evelyn Adiru

Jul 7, 1990 - 2:00.88 by Edith Nakiyingi

May 27, 2012 - 1:59.08 by Annet Negesa

Jul 18, 2014 - 1:58.63 by Winnie Nanyondo

Jun 27, 2018 - 1:58.39 by Halimah Nakaayi

Sept 30, 2019 - 1:58.04 by Halimah Nakaayi

Jul 9, 2021 - 1:58.03 by Halimah Nakaayi

Jul 16, 2023 - 1:57.78 by Halimah Nakaayi