Thursday,April 25,2019 19:28 PM

Some serious lessons from Asaba

By James Bakama

Added 6th August 2018 12:40 PM

That notwithstanding, there are still some lessons to learn from the biennial competition.

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That notwithstanding, there are still some lessons to learn from the biennial competition.

 By the time I wrote this column, a number of finals involving Uganda at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships were yet to be run.

These included the 200m, 800m, 1500m, steeplechase and 5000m. With people like Winnie Nanyondo, Halima Nakaayi and Ronald Musagala in this mix, a medal would be no surprise.

Most of these events were in the afternoon in Asaba, Nigeria, which was either evening or night in Uganda considering the two hour time difference.

That notwithstanding, there are still some lessons to learn from the biennial competition.

For starters going by the disorganisation in Nigeria, even Uganda can afford to claim that it would have put up a much better show.

Embarrassing scenes of over 30 teams stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos for days were simply unacceptable.

Then you also had cases of delays in release of official information. The media on many occasions got results hours after events.

I insist that even Uganda would have put up a better show.

You have certainly not forgotten the World Cross Country Championship at Kololo last year that was acclaimed as one of the best organised ever.

Looking at the actual competition in Asaba, I must say that we could have done better.

Let me however start off by congratulating  bronze medalists Timothy Toroitich (10000m) and teenager Josephine Lalam (javelin)

For Toroitich to have held his nerve and made it to the podium on Wednesday, shortly after the disorienting chaos in Lagos, was indeed remarkable.

Who knows how he would have fared if he had got a smooth stay right from arrival in the Nigerian capital.

Lalam who will turn 18 I November points at a bright future in one of those events that had until her arrival last year been considered extinct in Uganda.

All she needs is proper handling and the sky will be the limit. It is no surprise that she hails from Kitgum just like former African champion Justin Arop.

Like most talent in this country, she was discovered accidentally. But just imagine what the proceeds of a deliberate campaign to spot and develop talent from an area like the Acholi region would be.

For Uganda’s main medal hopes Stella Chesang and Mercyline Chelangat who finished fourth and fifth in the 10000m respectively, Asaba should serve as a wakeup call.

Commonwealth champion Chesang and bronze medalist Chelangat rested on their laurels after shinning in Australia.

Real hard work must start now in preparation for the forthcoming Doha World Championships.

The world meet unlike Commonwealth attracts the crème de la crème and therefore the Ugandan should be at its best.

As for the sprinters, middle distance runner Rashid Etiau and javelin thrower Lucy Aber, Asaba was yet another good learning experience.

More such competitions for these athletes will boost standards as was the case in the long distance events.

We are a long distance giant largely because of massive exposure.

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