Late last week, the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) named a 69-man team that will compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia slated for April 4 to April 15. The contingent, which is the largest ever to travel from Uganda for a major international sporting event will compete in 11 sports disciplines which include; athletics, which has the largest number of participants (23), rugby (18), players, netball (15), boxing (5), badminton (4), weightlifting (4), squash (2), swimming (2), table tennis (2), cycling (2) and one shooting player.
Having won five medals in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Uganda will be hoping for more medals to add to the 49 we have won since 1954 when the event was initiated. During the flagging off of the delegation last Thursday, President Museveni challenged the athletes by saying that: “You must be fit, have stamina, eat well and also be disciplined to be able to perform and win medals.”
However, of Uganda’s heroes who won the country medals in the last games, only bronze-winning 800m star Winnie Nanyondo returns to defend or surpass her achievement. Moses Kipsiro, gold medal winner in the 10,000m; Abraham Kiplimo who won bronze in the marathon and super heavyweight bronze medalists Michael Ssekabembe and Fazil Juma Kaggwa are all absent from the team this time round. The most notable absentee however is 2012 London Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich, who opted to focus on his preparations for the Hamburg Marathon happening later this year instead.
Athletics and boxing our best hope again
Uganda boasts 13 gold medals in the history of this event, with eight came from boxing and five from athletics. And unlike the past events where our participants have not had enough time for preparation, this time that excuse will not work as all disciplines embarked on training early enough. This, added to the timely allowances that were offered to the team before they were flagged off, means failure is not an option. In athletics, Halimah Nakaayi, Winnie Nanyondo, Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei are our absolute dependables while in boxing Latibu Muwonge, Bashir Nasir and Reagan Simbwa will also have a point to prove.
Other disciplines which bear medal hopes include the netball team which will be making its debut at the Games while the ruggers will have an outside chance after posting fairly good results recently.
The Full Uganda Contingent:
Athletics: Scovia Ayikoru, Shida Leni, Emily Nanziri, Halimah Nakaayi, Winnie Nanyondo, Docus Ajok, Juliet Chekwel, Mercyline Chelengat, Stellah Chesang, Josephine Lalam, Pius Adome, Alli Ngaimoko, Leonard Opiny, Ronald Musagala, Albert Chemutai, Phillip Kipyeko, Joshua Cheptegei, Thomas Ayeko, Timothy Toroitich, Jacob Kiplimo, Alex Chesakit, Robert Chemonges, Solomon Mutai Munyo
Rugby: James, Ijongat, Eric Kasita, Adrian Kasito, Kevin Kermundu, Timothy Kisiga, Manano Achaji, Marvin Odongo, Pius Ogena, Bryon Oketayot, Solomon Okia, Micheal Okorach, Phillip Wokorach, Kayiwa Ssebuliba, Desire Ayera Ruhweza, Ivan Magomu, Timothy Mudoola Muwumba, Joseph Jadwong, Aaron Ofoyrwoth
Netball: Lillian Ajio, Irene Akello, Betty Kizza, Conchepta Birungi, Florence Nanyonga, Hadijah Nakabuye, Halima Nakachwa, Jesca Achan, Joan Nampungu, Peace Proscovia, Racheal Nanyonga, Ruth Meme, Stella Oyella, Namuwaya Muhayimina
Cycling: Charles Kagimu, Vienna Sekanga
Badminton: Shamim Bridget Bangi, Aisha Nakiyemba, Brian Kasirye, Edwin Ekiring
Boxing: Musa Bwogi, Joshua Kizza, Latibu Muwonge, Bashir Nasir, Regean Simbwa
Squash: Ian Rukunya, Michael Kawooya
Swimming: Avice Meya, Elisha Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza
Weightlifting: Irene Kasubo, Kalidi Batuusa, Julius Ssekitoleko, Hakim Ssempereza
Table Tennis: Ronald Nyaika, Halima Nambozo
Shooting: Cleopatra Mungoma