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Olympics: Uganda heads to Paris with huge expectations

There are high expectations for the Ugandan team in Paris

There are high expectations for the Ugandan team in Paris

Three years ago during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which were heavily affected by Covid-19, the country’s contingent in the Far East produced Uganda’s best-ever showing at the Summer Games with a haul of two gold, one silver and one bronze.

It was the first time in history that Uganda were winning four medals at the world’s biggest games. It was also the first time that the country finished 36th in the medals table, above countries like India, South Africa, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

The Olympics return to the European continent for the first time in 12 years (London 2012 were the historic Games where Stephen Kiprotich claimed marathon gold) and Uganda are brimming with hopes of another impressive showing in the French capital of Paris. As of now, 24 athletes are already confirmed and the list could grow with a couple more athletics championship qualifiers due.

Jacob Kiplimo, Joshua Cheptegei, Victor Kiplangat and Peruth Chemutai will lead Uganda’s charge, having etched their names in the annals of Ugandan sport already. Kiplimo is a world cross country champion, a double Commonwealth gold medalist and already established as one of the world’s best middle and long-distance runners on the planet.

Cheptegei heads into Paris knowing that this will in all likelihood be his final Olympics on the track. As the 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder, he will be in the spotlight. He will start as one of the favourites for the podium.

Kiplangat is due to run in his first Olympics, having claimed marathon gold at the 2022 Commonwealth while Chemutai is the reigning 3,000m gold medalist. Unfortunately, Uganda will not have a representative in the boxing ring.

It is speaks volumes of how far the stock of boxing has fallen in the country, considering that in the 60s and 70s, it was the one sport in which Uganda excelled in at the Olympics. Olympic legends such as Eridadi Mukwanga, Leo Rwabogo and John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi are legends of sport because of the medals they won in the ring in the golden era of national team boxing.

Uganda will have two swimming wild card slots, which will be awarded to one male and a female. Currently, Tokyo 2020 participant Kirabo Namutebi and Gloria Muzito are in the reckoning for the female position while Chicago-based Jesse Ssengozi and Budapest-based Tendo Mukalazi, a sibling of Namutebi, are vying for the male one.

Cyclist Charles Kagimu will make his Olympics debut. Rower Kathlene Noble has also qualified.

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