Since the start of the Commonwealth Games in 1954, Uganda has amassed 39 medals; 10 gold, 12 silver and 17 bronze. With the 2010 Games in Delhi around the corner, MOSES MUGALU highlights Uganda’s greatest performances.
1. BOXERS’ MEDALRUSH IN 1970:
Three gold medals in the seven-medal haul from Edinburgh was no mean achievement for Uganda as it came on the back of an average performance in the 1966 Games.
The Ugandan team had only three bronze medals in the 1966 Games in Kingston, Jamaica. But four years later in Edinburgh, boxers Mohammed Muruli, James Odwori and Benson Masanda stepped to win gold medals for the team while 400 meters hurdler William Koskei plus boxers Leo Rwabogo (RIP) and Deogratias Musoke won silver. Judith Ayaa picked up a bronze in athletics.
2. RARE HURDLES MEDAL IN 1962:
In Perth, Australia, Uganda’s team showed great improvement from the 1954 and 1958 performances by winning seven medals in total, including two gold. In the debut 1954 Games held in Vancouver, Canada, Uganda won one medal – silver from high jump legend Patrick Etolu (RIP).
It was a similar harvest in 1958 as boxer Thomas Kawere won silver in Cardiff. However, it was a fruitful medal hunt for Uganda in 1962 as boxers George Oywello and Peter Odhiambo struck gold. Another boxer Kesi Odong clinched silver while his colleagues Francis Nyangweso, who would later become Olympic Committee boss, and John Ssentongo won bronze. Athletes Amos Omolo and Benson Ishiepai also won bronze to complete Uganda’s biggest medal haul from a single edition.
3. 1974 BELONGED TO KALULE:
Led by Ayub Kalule, who, a few months earlier, had become the world light-welterweight amateur champion, this was one of Uganda’s best performing teams at the Games. Kalule easily won gold and so did Muruli, who repeated his 1970 feat.
400-meter hurdler Silver Ayoo, pugilists Odwori, John Byaruhanga and Ali Rojo clinched silver while Shaddrack Odhiambo and Masanda won bronze. In all, Uganda won two gold, four silver and three bronze medals from Christchurch. Kalule was later voted African sports personality of the year.
4. JUUKO, NYAKANA ON RAMPAGE IN 1990:
Immensely talented young boxers Justin Juuko and his colleague Godfrey Nyakana took the Games by storm and reignited the golden memories when they both won gold medals in Auckland. Abdu Kaddu Sabata and Charles Matata (both boxers) won bronze.
5. INZZI COMES OF AGE IN 2006:
A decade-and-half later, 3,000 metres steeplechase star Dorcus Inzikuru went into the Melbourne Games on the back of her 2005 World Championships triumph in Helsinki.
She didn’t disappoint and together with Boniface Kiprop (10,000 metres), they made Uganda proud by winning gold in their respective disciplines. Boxer Martin Mubiru won bronze.
6. 1982 BELONGED TO ATHLETICS:
The trio of 400-meter hurdlers Ruth Kyalisima, Peter Rwamuhanda and boxer Vicky Byarugaba won silver medals apiece in Brisbane.
In the closest battle of the women’s 400 metres hurdles final, Kyalisama clocked 57.10 seconds, beating England’s Yvette Wray by just seven micro-seconds to the silver medal. Home girl Australian Debbie Flintoff took gold after winning the final in 55.89 seconds.
Rwamuhunda (49.95 sec) came closest to winning gold in the men’s 400 metres hurdles. Australian Gary Brown beat the Ugandan hero by just 28 micro-seconds.
7. BOXING TO THE RESCUE IN 2002:
Although Uganda’s medal count from the Games was on the wane (there was only one bronze medal for Uganda from the 1998 Games Malaysia), pugilists Joseph Lubega and Mohamed Kayongo won two silver medals for the country from the Manchester Games
8. BOXING HAUL IN 1966:
It’s clear that boxing has been Uganda’s main source of medals and at the Kingston Games in 1966, Alex Odhiambo, Mathias Ouma and Benson Ocan won the only bronze medals for the country.
9. MUTEWETA, KIZZA COME OF AGE IN 1994:
Pugilists Fred Muteweta and Charles Kizza came to the fore when they won bronze medals in the Games held in Canada.
10. ASIKU SOLE MEDALIST IN 1998:
Despite having gone through poor preparations for the Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, boxer Jackson Asiku won the bronze in the bantamweight (51kg) category, Uganda’s only medal from that edition.