Kenyan and Ugandan track team prepare for Paris clash

Apr 11, 2024

Eliud Kipchoge

Rebecca Kyobutungi
Journalist @New Vision


Both Uganda and Kenya are known as sporting powerhouses in East Africa. Yet, Kenya stands out with a track record in athletics that's hard to beat.

Since the 1960s, track running has taken off in the country, drawing in over 10 million fans. Kenyan track sensation Eliud Kipchoge leads to inspire more young athletes to join the run.

Just last month, the athletics community mourned the loss of world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum in a tragic car accident. However, recent Olympic qualification results revived the fervor. The Kenyan track team this year will include Kipchoge and Peres Jepchirchir.

Kenya's National Olympic Committee signaled confidence. "The journey begins as we defend our crown," it wrote on X.

Kipchoge, eyeing a historic third Olympic gold, joins forces with Boston Marathon champ Benson Kipruto, among others. On the women's side, Jepchirchir pairs up with Olympic silver medalist Brigid Kosgei and others like Helen Obiri and Rosemary Wanjiru.

Uganda's contingent is also shaping up. Leading the charge for the men is Jacob Kiplimo, who eyes the 5000m and 10,000m events. Kiplimo will gallop alongside the unstoppable Joshua Cheptegei in the 10,000m. On the marathon front, Victor Kiplangat and Stephen Kissa, among others, are set to flaunt Uganda's endurance prowess.

For the women, Halimah Nakaayi takes on the 800m while Winnie Nanyondo targets the 1500m. On the other side of the track, Sarah Chelangat and Joy Cheptoyek aim for the 5000m and 10,000m distances. The steeplechase sees Peruth Chemutai making her mark. However, the women's marathon lineup remains to be unveiled.

A shared passion

Rivalries come from similarities. On top of a shared interest in athletics, both nations also share a fervent passion for soccer. The market has been one of the most popular Sportsbet online options in both countries.

The Uganda Premier League has been treated as a cultural event since the sport is arguably the country’s national sport. Soccer has been a constant since the 1920s, attracting half a million players. Denis Onyango, Uganda's star goalkeeper, stands out as a testament to this passion.

The Kenyan Premier League draws large audiences week in and week out. Soccer popularity in the country roots back to the 1950s and boasts a whopping 20 million followers. Victor Wanyama, a Kenyan midfielder, is a key figure in this soccer-loving nation.

Rugby has also carved its niche since the 1920s in Kenya, garnering 5 million avid supporters. Collins Injera, a rugby star, exemplifies the grit and spirit of Kenyan rugby. The Ugandans had a later introduction to rugby, which happened in the 1950s. Hence, the sport has a smaller following of 30,000, with Philip Wokorach leading the charge.

While not as dominant as soccer, both basketball and volleyball have gained traction in both countries.  Basketball has found its rhythm in Kenya since the 1960s. Notable players, like Kenyan-American descent Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, become the main influencers.

Basketball's ascent in Uganda can't be ignored either. The rise of talents like Jimmy Enabu has not only boosted local leagues but also inspired a new generation to pick up the ball.

Due to their close proximity and shared interests, Kenya and Uganda frequently collaborate on the regional sports stage.

A prime example is the fact that the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations will be co-hosted by both Kenya and Uganda, together with Tanzania. This marks a major return of the tournament to East African soil since Ethiopia hosted the finals in 1976.

Morocco had the 2025 spotlight lined up. But Algeria's surprise exit from the 2027 bidding war changed the game. This opened the door wide for this East African trio. While challenges like timing and player availability due to club commitments persist, the tournament has grown from a three-team event in 1957 to a 24-team spectacle today.






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