Perhaps the most glowing tribute that can be paid to Team Uganda athletes is their effort. They’ve turned up at London 2012 and endeavoured. No one can deny them that.
They’ve participated well. But, frankly, haven’t quite competed.
It’s been a familiar story, albeit a depressing one. Yesterday morning, 800m runner Julius Mutekanga and 1500m representative Janet Achola entered their Heats attempting to better their personal times.
Each failed. And they were both far off the qualification mark. They never remotely looked like advancing from the Heats. It was more of the same for Team Uganda; a level below mediocrity. Failing at the Olympics is never an embarrassment. But there is disappointment nonetheless.
There is no point in celebrating modest achievement. Worse still, Uganda’s is neither modest nor achievement. Mutekanga, who run first in Heat 7, started well. But midway through the final lap, his legs were gone. His endurance had been tried to the limit. It couldn’t push him further.
He blamed it on his high altitude training after clocking a time of 1:48.41 to finish 5th. Only the top three qualify. “My last part of the race was very tough,” said a despondent Mutekanga. “My legs got a bit heavy. I put in a lot of training and can’t blame any official for my position. I have learnt a lot here.” Still, there is clearly a lot to be done before Team Uganda dreams of producing an athlete of David Rudisha, the Kenyan 800m world record holder.
He posted 1:45.90 to comfortably triumph in Heat 2 and is odds-on favourite to win gold.
Uganda’s female contestant on the day Achola ended in 11th positon in Heat 3 with a time of 4:11.64.
“My heat was very fast with top runners. It has really been a tough heat for me,” Achola remarked. On Sunday night Benjamin Kiplagat, in keeping in line with Uganda’s wretched Games, failed to finish the 3000m steeplechase final won by Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi.
800m Heat 7: Julius Mutekanga
1: 48.41 secs (5th)
1500m Heat 3: Janet Achola
4: 11.64 secs (11th)
By Mark Namanya, Daily Monitor