By James Bakama in Glasgow
Opening ceremony at 10pm
Today, the curtains will rise on one of the biggest sporting events. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will declare the 20th Commonwealth Games open in Celtic Park, home of Scotland’s biggest football club Celtic.
This marks the start of where 4500 athletes from the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth will over the next 10 days contest for honours in 17 disciplines.
Among the contestants will be Uganda which will be represented by 62 sportsmen. Charles Sekyaaya is the man who leads Uganda’s quest for medals.
As the stocky weightlifter battle he will be psyched by a rich Ugandan history. Uganda has out of 14 outings at these games won 12 gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze for a total of 44 medals that place the nation in 18th position out of 71 countries.
There’s more to Uganda’s presence in Scotland.
It evokes triumphal memories. Uganda’s best performance at these games was in Edinburgh in 1970. That time boxers James Odwori, Muhammad Muruli and Benson Masanda punched their way to gold while Leo Rwabwogo and Deogratius Musoke got silver as Uganda won the overall boxing title.
Uganda crowned it up all up with a bronze from quarter miler Judith Ayaa.
So, do Sekyaaya and company have what it takes to emulate their predecessors? Sekyaaya does have the potential to lift his way to the medal podium just like the boxers can punch their way to glory.
But going by the hardships Uganda has had in its build-up to the games, the country’s best hope could lie in the athletics.
The boxers have had a tumultuous six years under a governing federation torn in administrative wrangles. That this will be their first major competition in a long time could undermine their performance.
Athlete Moses Kipsiro, a double gold medallist at the last games, will be the main medal hope.
Winnie Nanyondo, who has just set a new 800m national record, is the other big name to watch. With world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotch absent the man carrying Uganda’s flag in the marathon will be Abraham Kiplimo.
While Kiprotich opted out, other superstars did not. The world’s fastest man Usain Bolt will be in action for Jamaica just like Kenya’s 800m world record holder David Rudisha and Olympic and world double gold medallist Mo Farah for England. But before these superstars light up the games, the world will be treated to an opening ceremony graced by music icons Rod Stewart and Susan Boyle.
From audacious, visual and musical performances to theatrical moments, the celebration will set the Glasgow skyline alight. The story of the Commonwealth nations will be aptly represented through the Parade of Nations, the Competitors’ Oath, and the epic finale to the Queen’s Baton Relay. May the games begin!
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Commonwealth Games open Wednesday in Glasgow