Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Uganda to name Olympic track and field team this week

Mutai (left) and Kiprotich (right) favourites to get two of
Uganda's three marathon places in Rio

31 DAYS TO GO: The national athletics championships Wednesday July 6 and Thursday 7 will offer Uganda's home-based runners a final chance to book a ticket to the Rio Olympics that start on August 5, 2016. 

The national championships at Mandela Stadium Namboole, were originally scheduled for July 15, but have had to be brought back in order to beat the Olympic qualification deadline of July 11. (see schedule bottom)

Uganda will next month send her biggest contingent of track and field athletes to an Olympics. Up to 20 athletes have met the Olympic qualifying team, but with quotas set for all races, Uganda's team will feature at least 16 - three better than Seoul 1988.

"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

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

The toughest competition has been in the marathon, where eight athletes hit the qualifying mark - 7 men and 1 woman. Country's can field a maximum of 3 athletes per event.

Favorite to lead the marathon team is Olympic Champion Stephen Kiprotich.

Others - not in any particular ranking are - Solomon Munyo Mutai, Kiprop Jackson, Robert Chemonges, Abraham Kiplimo, Alex Cheskit and Moses Kipsiro. Uganda will send a team of 4 marathoners, three men and one woman - Adero Nyakesi. 

“We will pick the best depending on performance,” Uganda athletics chief Otuchet said early this year.

Kiprotich has run 2:07:46 and 2:06:33 in the Tokyo marathon (FULL STORY CLICK) where he finished 4th early this year. Chesakit has run 2:13:06, Mutai 2:10:42, Kiprop 2:15:16, Kiplimo has a best time of 2:09:23 in 2014 and Kipsiro clocked 2:15:48.

File photo of Chesang on way to World Mountain title

There will also be 4 in the other long distance races, the 10000m and 5000m.

The long distances will have; Juliet Chekwel (10000m), Joshua Cheptgei (10000m and 5000m), Timothy Toroitich (10000m),  Moses Kurong (10000m)

Others are Phillip Kipyeko ( 5000m), Jacob Kiplimo (5000m) and World Mountain running champion Stella Chesang (5000m).

Benjamin Kiplagat and Jacob Araptany, joined by Peruth Chemutai will feature in the 3000m Steeplechse, Ronald Musagala in the 1,500m and Winnie Nanyondo in the 800m, will be the fifth woman on the team.

Overall, Uganda is expected to field 18 - 16 athletes at least, and two boxers. The team will be named after the national trials.

Uganda’s track and field team at the last Olympics in London was the biggest (11 out of 15) since Seoul 1988 when we had 13.  Kiprotich’s gold in London 2012, was the first Olympic medal since Davis Kamoga’s bronze in 1992 and one of only two gold Uganda has won at the games. The first gold was by Akii Bua in 1972, one of only 7 medals Uganda has won at Olympics track and field.

"Thank God, we will certainly have bigger numbers this time. The numbers will however mean nothing if we do not return with medals," said Otuchet.

Otuchet said team preparations are in advanced stage, with the team coached by veteran coach Benjamin Longirosi in camp in Bukwo. Taking care of the camp is sports administrator Peter Chelangat and chaperon Grace Chesang.

Only Kiprotich and Nyakisi are not yet in, having asked to train with their international colleagues in Kenya.

Athletes who have qualified
Women 5: Winnie Nanyondo (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 7: 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)


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.


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