Thursday, 7 July 2016

RIO: Two more qualify at National Championships


Ayeko hit 10000m qualifying time

A lot of action, many brave runs but only two new qualifiers.

Uganda's two-day National track and field Championships were crowned on Thursday with Olympic qualification times for Thomas Ayeko (10000m) and Halima Nakaayi (800m). 

Historic results they were as well, as it is the first time Ugandans are qualifying for the Olympics at the national championships courtesy of a modern track and new timing equipment. 

With few days to the qualifying deadline of July 11, 22 Ugandans have already hit the 2016 Rio Olympic minimum standards, but only 17 will make the trip - unless more qualify this weekend.

First to qualify at Namboole was Ayeko. Stretched by 10000m ace Tim Toroitich, Ayeko stunned a strong field Wednesday to become the 4th in contention for one of the three places in the 25-lap race.

KCCA athletics club's Ayeko benefited from the participation of 4 of 7 marathoners who have hit the Olympic qualifying time, plus 10000m ace Toroitich who set a blistering pace.  Ayeko took over the lead in the last 7 laps to better the qualifying mark by 3 seconds.

The Uganda team looks set to be picked primarily using the best times run, so Ayeko 27:57.03 will be on the waiting bench.

Joshua Cheptgei (10000m and 5000m), Timothy Toroitich (10000m) and Moses Kurong (10000m) qualified earlier with better times. 

Assured of a place is Nakaayi, who capitalised on a stunning run by Dorcus Ajok and Winnie Nanyondo, to qualify on day 2, Thursday. Nanyondo, who has already qualified set the pace and dropped off but Ajok, leading by close to 10 metres, fell 30metres to the finish.

Nanyondo raced past to win in 2:01.44 (Olympic qualifying time 2:01.50).

Ajok: What might have been

The race that will however remain on fans' mind for a while is the 800m women race.

Nanyondo, who has already qualified set a blistering 500m pace, but by the time she was giving way, Ajok was fully in charge. She took a 20 meters lead into the final 100m, she tripped and fell down 30 meters to the tape.

Nakaayi, who was second, raced past - and when the clock was stopped, she had qualified. If Ajok had not gone down, she was well into Olympic qualification time  - and to many - the national record would have fallen.

Uganda will next month send her biggest contingent of track and field athletes to an Olympics. 

Up to 21 athletes have met the Olympic qualifying team, but with quotas set for all races, Uganda's team will feature at least 17 - four better than Seoul 1988. Outside athletics, only two boxers will be part of the Uganda team to Rio.

"I think we have a good team that can better our performance at the London Olympics where we got one gold," athletics federation president Domenic Otuchet said in Kampala.  (see story Uganda to name team)

"This team looks solid enough to bring three medals, but to better London Olympics, one of them has to be gold." 

“We will pick the best depending on performance,” Uganda athletics chief Otuchet said early this year.
Athletes who have qualified
Women 6: Winnie Nanyondo (800m), Halima Nakaayi (800m) Stella Chesang (5,000m), Peruth Chemutai (3000mSC), Juliet Chekwel (10000m) and Adero Nyakesi (marathon)

Men marathon 7: Stephen Kiprotich, Solomon Munyo Mutai, Robert Chemonges, Kiprop Jackson, Abraham Kiplimo, Alex Cheskit and Moses Kipsiro.

Men other events 8: Joshua Cheptgei (10000m and 5000m), Timothy Toroitich (10,000m), Phillip Kipyeko ( 5,000m), Ronald Musagala (1,500m) and Benjamin Kiplagat (3,000m SC), Jacob Kiplimo (5,000m), Moses Kurong (10000m), Ayeko (10000m)



Countdown starts

The countdown to Rio 2016 has started. 

On Monday, the Olympic Games Rio 2016 Official Theme-Music video was released. Alma e Coração - Thiaguinho and Projota.