Uganda’s 2014 athletics season can aptly be written in two chapters on Commonwealth champion, Moses Kipsiro, and bronze medalist, Winnie Nanyondo.
The two stars shined on the track, did Uganda proud when stakes were high and achieved greatly at personal career development level.
After being written off due to a career-threatening knee and hamstring injuries, Kipsiro had the last laugh when he retained the 10,000m gold during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August.
In May, Kipsiro, who struck double gold (5,000 and 1,0000m) at the 2010 Club Games in New Delhi, clashed with athletics ruling body (UAF) officials over national team management issues and was accordingly dropped.
But being a defending champion, he earned a wild card entry to the Games. He took the chance gracefully to silence critics by retaining one of his medals and saved his career from what would have been a dreadful season.
In other notable achievements, UAF successful hosted the African Senior championships in February at Kololo Airstrip and World University Cross Championships in March at Entebbe Golf Course.
It’s against such successes that Uganda was in November selected to host the IAAF 2017 World Cross Country.
On a disappointing note, Ronald Musagala, widely touted as Uganda’s new men’s 800m sensation after his brilliant show at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, was one of the biggest flops in 2014.
Nanyondo was phenomenal in her 800m conquests, which included three gold medals, a bronze and setting a new national record. In the absence of big name women athletes such as former World 3,000-metre steeplechase champion Dorcus Inzikuru, 21-year-old Nanyondo kicked off the season in style by sweeping three gold medals in the East African University Games held in January.
She won the 800, 1500 and 5000-metre races. As expected that performance from Nanyondo raised hopes in the country’s sports fraternity that a new woman athletics star was born. So, the pressure piled on her shoulders going into the next events.
But Nanyondo lived up to expectations. In March, Nanyondo, running for Ndejje University, went on to win gold in the World University Cross Country championships in Entebbe.
In June, she made her debut on the IAAF permit circuit and won the Golden Spike Meet in Ostrava Czech Republic. Her winning time was 1:59.27 seconds. A month later, Nanyondo shattered the 800-metre national women record when she finished third in one minute 58.63 seconds in the IAAF Diamond League event in Monaco, France.
The previous national record of one minute 59.08 seconds had been set by Annet Negesa in July 2012. After setting a new national record, Nanyondo picked up the moment for her debut at the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland in August.
Probably fatigued and burnt out, Nanyondo was not the best at the Games but settled for a bronze medal in the 800m race won by Kenyan Eunice Jepkoech Sum (2:00.31) followed by Scotland’s Lynsey Sharp (2:01.34). Nanyondo ran the race slower, clocking 2:01.38.