All it takes is having well trained resident coaches. A few years ago this was not possible. It is a different story today when sports is well funded
Is Uganda finally awakening in the field events? That’s the question many are asking following teenager Josephine Lalam’s consistent shine.
The Gombe SS student in 2017 won javelin gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
She followed that up with a bronze at the Africa Championship before striking gold again at the Africa U20 Championships last week.
Uganda has over the past two decades stood out as an emerging force because of her performance in the long distances. Not that we lack field events talent.
As far back as 1954, another Ugandan Patrick Etolu won Commonwealth Games silver in the high jump.
Then 18 years later, another Ugandan John Akii-Bua was breaking a 400m hurdles world record at the 1972 Olympics.
That was certainly proof that Uganda also had talent in the sprints. Was it, therefore, a surprise that Davis Kamoga with virtually no coach won Olympic bronze in 1996?
The depth of Kamoga’s talent was underlined with a World Championship silver the following year.
So, with Lalam now also standing out, could this be a sign of something very serious happening outside the long distance events?
Besides Lalam, there have also been names like Lucy Aber also standing out. Aber last season broke the javelin national record.
Uganda Athletics Federation publicist Namayo Mawerere said last week that they are now also paying special attention to field events especially the throws.
That’s good news given the huge potential that exists here. You only have to look back three decades to realise what we stand to gain.
Justin Arop, the 1987 African champion, who at his best was also amongst the world’s best, was also a Ugandan.
Interestingly, Lalam and Aber also hail from the Acholi sub-region just like Arop. A close look at the other names competing with Aber and Lalam also reveals that the bulk of this talent is from this region.
You certainly also have not forgotten yet another Acholi Patrick Kibwota, who at the onset of his career was beating eventual world champions like Kenya’s Julius Yego.
Kibwota was only let down by lack of serious coaching and exposure. All that the likes of Lalam and Aber require is specialised coaching and regular competition.
The former comes with other basics like right feeding and gym work. My prayer is that Lalam doesn’t face the same fate as Kibwota.
The good news is that the two throwers are being given the necessary exposure. There is even a bigger picture.
Besides giving the two throwers the necessary assistance, what about starting development centres in areas like the Acholi sub-region.
All it takes is having well trained resident coaches. A few years ago this was not possible. It is a different story today when sports is well funded.
Putting aside say sh2m a month per coach is an affordable venture. This could be backed by centres of excellence in schools. These serve as collection points of talent in a given region.
We could be missing out on more Lalams.