By James Bakama
Entebbe Golf Course
11am: On-site opening ceremony
12pm: Women’s 6km
2.45pm: Men’s 10.5km
UGANDA is yet to fully recover from last weekend’s home defeat to Kenya and Ethiopia in the Africa Cross-country Championships.
So, when the starter’s gun sounds this afternoon in Entebbe, every Ugandan will be praying that the home team makes up for last Sunday’s humiliation with a better show in the World University Cross-country.
Uganda’s captain Benjamin Njia can’t hide the hosts’ determination to improve on the Kololo experience.
“We are done with preparations, and I must say we are fi t and set to go for competition. Expect medals,” promised Njia after the team’s last training session at their camp in Ndejje on Thursday.
Njia said they will make good use of their better knowledge of the Entebbe Golf Course.
“It’s a course we are well versed with especially after running there in the Africa Cross-country last December. Annet Chebet Winnie Nanyondo, who won the women’s gold that time, will be one of the people Uganda will be banking on for medals.
“It is good to be back in Entebbe. It’s is one of those courses I really like. I will be going for gold again,” she confidently said after the Uganda team shifted from Ndejje University to the athletes village at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel.
Sam Cherop was even more confident saying the world meet is an opportune moment to pay back the Kenyans.
“We are going to show them that we are a better side.”
Apart from Kenya, Japan and Morocco are the other countries Uganda will be seriously watching.
Japan only made its maiden appearance at the biennial event in 2010 but is ranked sixth amongst the countries that have so far won medals.
In Entebbe Japan, who have four gold medals, one silver and a bronze, will be represented by four women and the same number of men.
Each team can field up to six male runners of which four score points while a women’s team can have up to five competitors with three scoring.
Action starts with a race for children under 14 years at 10am. This will be followed an hour later by on-site opening ceremonies before the women’s championship race at mid-day.
The men’s race is scheduled for 2.45pm. Competitors will be flagged off at the cricket oval before heading to the golf course. The finish will also be at the cricket oval.
A championship banquet at the cricket terrace will be the day’s last event. Teams start departing the following day.
Great Britain, which together with France are the only countries to have featured in all 18 editions of the competition, top the medal table with 18 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze.
Uganda, which will be making its third appearance in the competition, becomes only the second African country to host the competition. Uganda first featured in this competition in 1982 in Darmstadt, West Germany.
Until 2006 when Algeria staged the cross-country, the competition was more of a European affair.
Canada is the only other country outside Europe that has hosted the world meet.