Unless you live under a rock – a really big rock where no telephone, internet, newspapers, or any other form of media can reach – then you know the Olympics, and Paralympics, are on. Held in London, UK they run from 27 July-12 August and 29 August-09 September, respectively.
What you might not be as well briefed on is who the Ugandan athletes are who are competing, how they got there and how to support them.
Uganda’s first Olympic appearance was in 1956 and since that time has attended 13 of the games and won six medals. Unfortunately, none of those medals have been won since 1996
Every country that competes in the Olympics has a National Olympic Committee. You can find Uganda’s National Olympic Committee website here: http://www.nocuganda.com/. Each country may enter up to three qualified athletes in any individual event or one team in a team event if they meet the qualifications set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Most of the qualifications are time-based but it depends on the sport. The IOC relies on a single International Federation of any sport to set the parameters, rules and regulations for that sport. Teams and athletes can qualify by winning ‘world championships’ and also individually, athletes must qualify at certain events where international standards set by the International Federation are met (e.g. timekeeping, distance measurements, etc.) which is why the controversy in Uganda ensued when athletes were forced to move from the stadium due to it being pre-booked for a religious event. This was one of the last qualifying opportunities for most of those athletes prior to the deadline – in the case of this year’s Olympics, various dates in early July 2012.
(Incidentally, if you’ve ever noticed that the host country seems to win an awful lot of medals it’s because they enjoy a freebie – they are entitled to automatic entry for one athlete in every event!)
So who are the athletes competing for Uganda at the 2012 Olympics/Paralympics? There are a total of 18 athletes competing and men’s athletics is the category with the most athletes represented. These are: Jacob Araptany (1,500m; 3,000m steeplechase); Thomas Ayeko (10,000m); Benjamin Kiplagat (3,000m steeplechase); Abraham Kiplimo (5,000m); Stephen Kiprotich (marathon); Moses Kipsiro (5,000m; 10,000m); Geoffrey Kusuro (5,000m); Julius Mutekanga (800m).
Women’s athletics has four entries, being: Janet Achola (1,500m); Dorcus Inzikuru (3,000m steeplechase); Annet Negesa (800m); Jane Suuto (marathon).
Uganda has two swimmers at this year’s Olympics both competing in the 50m freestyle. Mens: Ganzi Mugula. Women’s Jamila Lunkuse. Mugula was also selected as Uganda’s Olympic team captain.
Men’s Badminton has a single competitor, Edwin Ekiring as does Men’s Weighlifting-62kg, Charles Ssekyaaya.
Uganda also competes in the Paralympics and has since 1972. The Uganda Paralympic Committee’s website may be found here: http://www.paralympic.org/npc/uganda. There will be two athletes attending the Paralympics from Uganda, Christine Akullo in the 100m and David Emong in the 1,500m; 5,000m.
If you’re not lucky enough to be able to watch the Olympics from the comfort of your living room there are a number of bars, restaurants and hotels that seem to have the action on nearly 24/7. Every day there is also a highlight reel shown of the events from the previous day.