Running is a sport that has a great appeal to many. With a low barrier to entry and not much special equipment required, almost anyone just about anywhere can participate in the joys of running. With a good set of running shoes and some ground to cover, running can become a great way to unwind from the day, stay fit, and build confidence.
With great speed, distance, and endurance comes the title of great runners. The history of running in Uganda has seen many legends come running into it. Here (in no particular order) we’ll take a look at some of the top runners in Ugandan History.
John Akii Bua
Arguably Uganda’s greatest sports man of all time. Akii Bua won Uganda it’s first Olympics gold medal in Munich 1972 in the 400m hurdles in 47.82 seconds
He also won a gold and silver medal at the 1973 and 1978 All Africa games in Nigeria and Algeria respectively.
He became the first Ugandan to be inducted into Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) “HALL OF FAME”.
Joshua Cheptegei is Uganda’s best long distance runner currently. In 2017, he became a silver medalist in the 10,000m run at London’s world championship in England and in 2018, he set a world record at Seven Hills race in Nijmegen, Netherland before sqooping a gold medal in both the 5000m and 10,000m at Commonwealth games in Gold coast, Australia that same year.
He went ahead to become the 2019 world cross country champion in Denmark, clocking 31:40 in the 10.24Km course before claiming his world championship gold medal in the 10,000m race in Doha,Qatar, finishing the race in 26:48.36.
He currently holds the world road 5km record on 12:51 set in Monaco in 2020, beating the old fasted time by 9 seconds.
Inzikuru won the 2005 inaugural women’s 3000m steeplechase world title in Helsinki, Finland finishing the event in 9:18.24. She became the first Ugandan to win a gold medal after a 33 years wait since Uganda’s first medal in 1972. She also won the country’s first Commonwealth games title in Melbourne, Australia in 2006.
Aside from the world titles, Inzikuru won a bronze medal in the 5000m race at the 2003 Afro-Asian games in India, a silver medal at the 2002 Africa Games in the 5000m and a gold medal at the 2000 World junior championship in Skellefteå, Sweden.
Davis Kamoga won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic games in Atalanta, Italy in the 400m race and he also became the first Ugandan to win a medal at the 1997 World Championship in Greece, winning a silver medal in the 400m race with a personal best time of 44.37 seconds.
Kipsiro has won lots of medals and is one of the most decorated Ugandans. He won a bronze at the 2007 Osaka World championships in 5000m, Silver medals at the 2010 Split Continental Cup in 3000m and 5000m. He also won gold medals in 5000 m in the 2007 and 2011 All Africa Games in Algeria and Mozambique respectively.
He won a silver medal at the 2008 IAAF world athletics Finals in the 5000m race before finishing second at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan with a time of 35:04 minutes.
Kipsiro also won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in 2010 in both the 5000m and 10000m categories. Besides the medals, Kipsiro holds the national record in the 3000, 5000 and 10000 metres races.
Kipsiro has also won medals at the IAAF Golden League competitions; bronze in the 2007 editions in Brussels (5000 m) and Zurich (3000 m) plus gold at the Paris events in the 3000 m.
Kipsiro’s other medals are; gold at the 2005 Zagreb IAAF in 3,000 m silver at the 2007 Monaco event plus silver at the 2006 and 2010 Africa Championships in 5,000 m and 10, 000 in Bambous and Nairobi respectively and then gold at Bambous in 10,000 m in 2006.
Kiprotich won a gold medal in 2012 at London’s Olympic marathon, becoming only the second Ugandan to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games with John Akii Bua winning the first 40 years ago.
The medal won in 20:08:01 was also the first since Davis Kamoga’s bronze way back in 1996. In 2011, he set a new Enschede Marathon record when he finished the race in 2:07:20 which is still a national record.
He finished third in the Tokyo Marathon early this year with a time of 2:07:50. His best years might be ahead of him but no doubt about his legendary status.
Nakaayi is the only other Ugandan lady to have won a world senior title. She won gold in the 800m race at the Doha World Championships last year. This came shortly after her getting bronze at the Rabat All Africa Games.
The diminutive athlete showed early what she was capable of when she won gold at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games. Interestingly, the win was in the 400m, where she clocked 57.6 seconds.
The teenager from Koch-Goma in Nwoya district was the first Ugandan woman to win a Commonwealth Games medal. This was a bronze in Edinburgh in 1970. She had on her way to the final also set an African record of 52.86 seconds.
The following year, Ayaa won the 400m at a USA versus the rest of the world championship. Her time of 54.69 seconds was nearly a second faster than the nearest competitor.
At just 16, Ayaa had stormed the athletics scene with a bang, winning the 100m, 200m, 400m and also anchoring the 4×400 team to victory at the 1968 East and Central African Championship in Dar-es-Salaam. Her time of 53.6 seconds in the 400m was amongst the world’s top ten.
Together with another sprinter, Mary Musani, they were the only women on Uganda’s team to 1972 Munich Olympics. Ayaa set another African record of 52.68 at the games, a record time that stood for three decades.
Part of the information used in this article was contributed to by James Bakama – New Vision,World Athletics organization and Kawowo Sports.