The more effort they invest, the better the performance
For many years the sprints and field events were considered a dead area in Uganda’s athletics.
Never mind that at one point names like John Akii-Bua, Aggrey Awori, Erasmus Amukun, Judith Ayaa and Bill Koskei had Uganda as a sprints giant in Africa.
The country’s fortunes, however, began declining in the 1990s.
Talents like Davis Kamoga shot up in this period but this seemed more like an accidental occurrence.
Then came a new phase in our athletics. This was the rise of long-distance events in the late 1990s.
Results were and have continued to be more forthcoming here. Unlike the sprints and field events, the long-distance races need less attention.
All that is required was training at high altitude.
Then, of course, there were also role models from Kenya. In the process, the sprints and field event seemed to be ignored.
There, in fact, came a time when you would go to a national meet and there were only two sprint heats.
But over the past five years, there is something serious happening in these once dull areas.
You only have to attend a national meet today to realise that life is returning.
There is both quantitative and qualitative proof that UAF is moving in the right direction.
As for the numbers when you start getting up to seven heats, you have to accept there is growth. Then what better proof for quality than that of records regularly falling?
Last year, the women’s 400m record was broken by Shida Leni four times! This was all on top of Musa Isabirye’s 100m record and Lucy Aber’s new javelin mark. That had never happened.
Until recently, all records were set abroad. Leni bounced back in the fourth Uganda Athletics Federation trial last month breaking the quarter mile mark a record fifth time!
Amidst all this, is the arrival of talents like Aaron Adoli, who qualified for the All Africa Games in his first 400m.
To show that this was no fluke, he further improved on his personal best on Saturday.
Not even 400m legend Davis Kamoga ran that fast in his opening two races way back in 1994.
There were yet more signs of growth on Saturday when Pius Adome broke the 100m record.
That this was just nine months since Isabirye’s record said volumes about what’s happening in the sprints.
Coaches in charge of these sprinters not only need thanking but also consistent motivation.
The more effort they invest, the better the performance. The athletes also need something to boost them.
For now, UAF could think of cash awards for say top three finishers. Then there should be an even bigger reward for record breakers.
There are sponsors out there willing to fund such ventures. With more motivation, more records will tumble.