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When we were kings on pitch, track, oval

DECADE SERIES

In the second part of the Top 10 Ugandan Sporting Moments, ROBERT MADOI looks back at when a 'Mamba', the Fab Three and a maverick cricketer took sports stories to the front pages of local newspapers.


AFRICAN CHAMPS: Timothy Mudoola  (L) and Allan Musoke (R) hail Rugby Cranes’ 20-19 win over
fancied Namibia

4. TURNING TO MAMBA

What: Uganda Rugby Cranes win 2007 CAR Africa Cup
When: September 30, 2007
Where: Municipal Stadium of Mahamasina in Antananarivo, Madagascar

It seats at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, home to South African rugby union team Blue Bulls. Weighing no less than 800kg, it has brought many reputable forwards down to their knees. Meet ‘Mamba’. No, it’s not a snake but rather a scrum machine.

Having huffed and puffed to no avail at the first time of asking, Rugby Cranes’ forwards managed to force back ‘Mamba’ on day two of their acclimatisation/training programme at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. It was a feat whose implications would be felt as far as Madagascar’s Municipal Stadium where the CAR Africa Cup semifinals and final were to be held.

Uganda was scheduled to play Kenya in one of the semifinals. Rugby encounters between Uganda and Kenya are normally laden with flashpoints. This semifinal was no exception as a sum total of three sin bins suggests. Uganda’s veteran flanker, Robert Sseguya was sent to the sin bin with the clock reading a ripe old three minutes.

The highlight of this grudge semifinal duel was when, bringing all they had learnt from their scrummaging practice with ‘Mamba’, Uganda’s small pack pushed its opposite number over its own ball. The Kenyans didn’t know what was hitting them, and went on to lose the match 24-12.

Ugandan players kept their feet on the ground, and went on to beat Madagascar 42-11 in the final.
The momentum for this epic victory (which can be equated to the national football team winning the African Nations Cup) was gathered when Uganda eliminated erstwhile front-runners, Namibia 20-19 in the preliminaries.

What they said:

Yayiro Kasasa (coach): “[Against Madagascar] the players were awesome in defence and disciplined especially after missing out the captain Adrian Bukenya [who was injured]. What this win means is that, South Africa aside, we are the best African rugby side”.

5. MELBOURNE TRINITY

What: Uganda wins three medals at 2006 Commonwealth Games
When: March 20-26, 2006
Where: Melbourne, Australia

Like the biblical Three Magi/Wise Men, Dorcus Inzikuru, Boniface Kiprop and Martin Mubiru left the 2006 Commonwealth Games with a trio of symbolic gifts.
There might have been a dearth of frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts the Three Magi gave baby Jesus), but there was gold: two of them, and a bronze for good measure. Uganda couldn’t ask for better tidings.

When Team Uganda departed for the Games, it was cast in stone that Inzikuru was going to win gold. Inzikuru’s effortless capture of the 3000m steeplechase world title in 2005 had marked her out for greatness. So when Inzikuru, in her familiar red spikes, pitted her skills against a so-so field of runners, many Ugandans rubbed their hands in anticipatory relish.

Inzikuru had all the ingredients to prepare a sumptuous ‘cuisine’. And true to her ‘culinary art’, Inzikuru’s Midas touch had her winning gold in 9:19.51.

A day after Inzikuru won gold, flyweight pugilist, Martin Mubiru outscored plucky Kenyan, Duncan Kuria 26-16 to assure Uganda another medal. The type of medal would be confirmed on March 23, 2006 when Mubiru took on another African - this time South Africa’s Jackson Chauke. Sadly, Mubiru lost 24-22. The loss meant that Mubiru had to settle for a bronze medal.

Two days later, on March 25, 2006, Kiprop took to the field in the 10,000m final. This was, by no stretch of imagination, an average field. There was no Kenenisa Bekele or Sileshi Sihine both whose home country - Ethiopia - isn’t a former British colony. But that shouldn’t steal the thunder from Kiprop who ran 27:50.99 to win gold.

What they said:

Boniface Kiprop: “It’s Uganda’s second medal and everyone will be very proud of me. Tonight I wanted to win a race, and I definitely knew it was there to be won”. 

6. CRICKET’S REDEMPTION SONG

What: National cricket team finishes 10th at 2001 ICC Trophy
When: June-July 2001
Where: Ontario, Canada

Sport has over the years established a reputation for being a master at offering second chances. It played to that script back in 2001.

 

Aged 18, Kenneth Kamyuka had everything going for him. He was adored at Busoga College Mwiri thanks in no small measure to his cricketing expertise. Soon that adoration imbued from the periphery to the centre. In the January of 2001, Kamyuka was given the honourable duty of captaining a national Under-19 side.

The wheels came off the Kamyuka wagon when it was revealed that he escaped from camp to take part in a sex romp. Or so we thought! Kamyuka emerged from the suspension local cricket body, UCA meted on him stronger. Those who had written his cricket epitaph were shamed when he made the grade for the 2001 ICC Trophy side.

Taking the proverbial second bite at the cherry, Kamyuka propelled the then unheralded Uganda to greater heights in Canada. It all started with that undefeated, 54-ball 100 (to date the fastest ton by a Ugandan) which hauled Team Uganda from the murky waters to an unlikely victory over Malaysia.

Of course, Kamyuka’s feats were something of a subplot. The main story was Team Uganda’s dream run that harvested an unblemished group record (five wins on the bounce). A five-wicket loss to United Arab Emirates in the playoff did eventually pour ink on the script as Uganda finished a respectable 10th, having entered the tournament ranked 21 out of the 23 competing nations.

What they said:

Dr Ali Bacher (Executive Director of the 2003 Cricket World): “[Uganda] are a 100 percent indigenous team and were truly the spark of the tournament. They ended in 10th place and just missed out on higher honours by losing a playoff with the United Arab Emirates”.

rmadoi@observer.ug

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