President Museveni gave Uganda’s Olympic medallists rewards in the form of brand new Mitsubishi Pajeros at Kololo Independence grounds.
Joshua Cheptegei won two medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, gold in the 5000m and 10000m silver, while Peruth Chemutai clinched women’s 3000m steeplechase gold.
Bronze in the 5000m for Jacob Kiplimo made this year’s edition the most successful yet for Uganda.
“I am a happy man now. You know happy men can be generous, I will give each one of them a vehicle,” Museveni said.
“Then finally, I will build houses for the parents of these gold medal people,” he added.
Without a clear reward and recognition scheme, these gifts remain presidential handshakes. It’s one such handshake that David Emong is waiting for after his bronze medal in the men’s 1500m T46 race on Saturday here in Japan.
Emong, a silver medallist in Rio 2016, Uganda’s first, was always the best bet at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. He finished third this time behind in a race won by Russia Paralympic Committee’s 26-year old Aleksandr Iaremchuk.
The latter clocked three minutes and 52.08 seconds. Hristiyan Stoyanov, 23, was second while Emong stopped the clock at three minutes and 53.51 seconds, a Personal Best.
Hamson Denis Obua, the state minister for sports, is non-committal on what Emong is entitled to.
“Paralympics is the Olympics for the PWDs (People With Disabilities),” he said. “In my opinion, he is entitled to all rewards and entitlements like the other Olympians. We are consulting the authorities to arrive at the precise and concise position though.
“He has built on the strong foundation laid by team Uganda. Emong’s win is a clear indication of a bright future for the Paralympic Games in Uganda. He is inspiring and motivating a number of PWDS that it’s possible,” he explained.
Previously, Emong was rewarded with Shs50m by the National Council of Sports (NCS) for his silver in Rio and gold at the 2017 World Para-Athletics Championships.Last month, NCS general secretary Bernard Patrick Ogwel committed to rewarding athletes who win either gold, silver or bronze.
“There’s a financial reward but we don’t want people to think it’s about money,” Ogwel said. “We’ll be able to reveal after. I can promise you that we have put money aside. It’s in the bank only waiting for withdrawal when the Games are done.”
Ogwel said the rewards would include both Olympians and Paralympians.
Currently, NCS and the Ministry of Education and Sports are working on a policy to guide the reward and recognition of excelling sports personalities.
With that process moving at tortoise pace, NCS has gone ahead to reward athletes with cash. In 2018, the agency paid out Shs100m for medals won at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
For his 5,000 and 10,000m double, Cheptegei pocketed Shs50m. Stella Chesang received Shs20m for winning the 10,000m women’s race.
Solomon Mutai, who won silver in the marathon, earned Shs15m while Mercyline Chelangat and Juma Miiro got Shs7.5m each for bronze in the 10,000m and boxing respectively.
Hana, the sentimental volunteer
The success of any event regardless of its magnitude is the will of volunteers to go the extra mile. Some who sign up to be volunteers are looking for something to occupy them or enhance their CVs for future opportunities. Then, there is a sentimental 57-year-old Hana, who was born in 1964, the last time Japan hosted the Olympics. A driver, she told us: “Everyone here was crazy and excited about the Olympics and Parlaympics before the coronavirus messed things up.” She feels lucky she was chosen to drive guests.
Waiting for a refund
One of the signature moments of any global sports extravaganza is the opening and closing ceremonies. The iconic moment allows a host country to showcase their culture to the world. The TV production is stellar and leaves a mark in your mind, doesn’t it? The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics have already had splendid three ceremonies with one to come.Here, locals paid as much as $2,000 (Shs7.2m) for tickets to attend just one of those ceremonies. The tickets sold out. Then, organizers decided to lock out fans in order to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Now, everyone is waiting for a refund.