INEOS, Kagimu and the Olympic dream!

Seeking Improvement. Kagimu during training in Kenya recently. PHOTO | ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI

What you need to know:

  • The Ugandan gold medalist from the 2024 African Games in Ghana now heads to Europe for a number of races before embarking on his eternal dream of cycling at and winning an Olympic medal in Paris

Uganda’s first ever cycling gold medalist at the African Games, Charles Kagimu, is starting to reap from the hard work of a decade.

The 25-year-old won the men’s elite Individual Time Trial (ITT) gold at the 13th Africa Games in Ghana last Friday.

However, what we saw was a culmination of the unseen hard work when Kagimu cycled to school in Kampala and later with Crane Cycling Club before moving across the border to join Kenya Riders Cycling Club.

Then later in mid 2022, luck met strategic positioning and preparation, and suddenly gold was in the making.

Enter INEOS, Kipchoge

Cycling team INEOS Grenadiers, owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s famous INEON Group - who recently acquired 25 per cent of Manchester United to control the sporting side of the club - entered Kenya and the rest is history.

INEOS Group is a British multinational conglomerate that has stakes in several sports clubs and running organisations.

INEOS Grenadiers, then in June 2022, teamed up with marathon world-record holder at the time, Eliud Kipchoge to set up a cycling academy in Kenya.

They saw this as an opportunity to tap into the renowned endurance of local talent and create top level cyclists.

Along with Dutch sports management agency Global Sports Communication, the new academy called the - INEOS Eliud Kipchoge Cycling Academy  - was set up at Kaptagat camp, where Kipchoge's Running Team training centre is located.

As fate would have it, INEOS Grenadiers and Kenya Riders Cycling Club had already established contacts.

“Kenya Riders Cycling Club actually formed the first group of riders at the INEOS project and Eliud Kipchoge Cycling Academy in Kenya, and that is how I became one of the pioneer beneficiaries,” Kagime narrated to Daily Monitor.

Nurturing talent

Under the INEOS Kipchoge Academy, young riders are nurtured while several others compete in different races across Kenya as well as tours and championships in Africa and Europe.

Actually, Kagimu’s first major breakthrough was last year in February when he won gold at the continental championship - still in Accra, Ghana - which earned him his place at the Paris Olympics later this year.

However, the medal he claimed in Accra this year was extra special as he became the first Ugandan to win a cycling gold gong at the African Games. 

Embracing the journey

Kagimu, who dropped out of school in Senior Three due to lack of school fees, does not regret where the road has brought him.

“Of course you want to do school and finish it, but it was not the case for me. That said, some things happen to people differently, and this path has still brought me where I am. I’m grateful.”

The young man now heads to Europe in three week’s time for a number of races and competitions before embarking on his ultimate dream.

“The Olympics is my main goal this year,” said Kagimu, “It’s the ultimate. I want to prepare the best and see what we can do over there. I’ll do my best to get a medal.”

INEOS and Kipchoge Academy support all their cyclists on tours with the fundamentals, including equipment such as bikes.

According to Kagimu, the bike he used in Accra is not even the latest as it's a 2022 model, but “it cost over Shs100m, paid for by INEOS/Kipchoge project.”

Given how things were before INEOS came on board, we are much better now, but we can always be better.”

Kagimu, for example, would appreciate it if he got financial push from the Government of Uganda when preparing for events where he is representing the country, like the Olympics team were for the Tokyo Olympics.

Government support

“Like for my European Tour, yes INEOS give us support but sometimes you are limited to how much you can do as ours is an expensive sport. So how many races I do in Europe will depend on the budget that I have.

“Hopefully I can get some funding from the government to help me out as I will also be preparing for the Olympics through these races.”

According to Uganda Cycling Association president Sam Muwonge Mahaba, his federation receives Shs320m annually from the government and in the released quarter “we bought the uniform for Team Uganda and a few other essentials. I appreciate this but it is not sufficient.”

Kagimu admitted that the government took care of his travel and everything needed in camp, but did not receive support in preparations for the Games. 

The same is true for his other three teammates that completed Team Uganda at the African Games.

They include Kagimu himself, Lawrence Lorot and Paul Lomuria - all from the INEOS Eliud Kipchoge Academy, and Jordan Ssekanwagi, also based in Kenya. Kagimu hopes for better support for the Olympics. 

Kagimu at a glance

Name: Charles Kagimu

Age: 25

Cycling history: Started riding to school in S.1 in 2011, but took it more seriously after he dropped out of school in 2013

Current attachment: Kenya Riders Cycling Club, INEOS Kipchoge Cycling Academy

Former club: Crane Cycling Club (Uganda)


African Games gold medalist

African Championships gold medalist