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Uganda’s sports heroes since independence

By Charles Mutebi

Added 9th October 2019 07:35 PM

It is hard to shake off that feeling every time you reminisce about Inzikuru’s finest moment or that unforgettable image of her knees on the ground and hands skyward.

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It is hard to shake off that feeling every time you reminisce about Inzikuru’s finest moment or that unforgettable image of her knees on the ground and hands skyward.



Common wisdom says Uganda’s sporting achievements are few and even then often short of real quality. But try making a list of Uganda’s top ten sports successes since 1962 and suddenly you have a wealth of choice. Charles Mutebi looks at the list of Uganda’s greatest feats from the field of sport.


John Akii-Bua – Gold, 1972 Olympics

John Akii-Bua’s 400m hurdles gold at the 1972 German Olympics remains the most iconic feat in the history of Ugandan sport. He won Uganda’s first Olympic gold. He died at the tender age of 47.

Stephen Kiprotich – Gold, 2012 London Olympics

This achievement was not only special in its own right but also because of what it meant to the nation. Exactly 40 years had passed since Uganda’s one and only gold when Stephen Kiprotich lit up the streets of London as he strode to first place in the men’s marathon.

RELATED: Kiprotich wins Olympic gold


Uganda Cranes – Runners up, 1978 African Cup of Nations

For a nation whose major pastime is football, getting to the final of the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations is easily the most profound team achievement in the history of Ugandan sport.

Stephen Kiprotich – Gold, 2013 Moscow World Athletics Championships

When Kiprotich went for the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, he was a marked man. But he became the second man to win marathon gold at the Olympics and worlds.

Dorcus Inzikuru – Gold, 2005 Helsinki World Athletics Championships

Oh what more could have been! Unfortunately, it’s hard to shake off that feeling every time you reminisce about Inzikuru’s finest moment or that unforgettable image of her knees on the ground and hands skyward.  Inzikuru was still a teenager when she won gold in the women’s World Athletics 3000m steeplechase, a race that had just been introduced. 


Eridadi Mukwanga – Silver, 1968 Mexico Olympics

Uganda was hotbed of boxing talent from its very inception and it’s only fitting that the country’s first Olympic medals came from the would-be sweet science. The honour of winning the country’s maiden Olympic medal fell to Bantam-weight Eridadi Mukwanga, who claimed silver at the 1968 Games.

Leo Rwabogo – Silver, 1972 Olympics

He remains the only Ugandan with two Olympic medals and it’s undoubtedly the second one, silver at the 1972 Olympics that ranks marginally higher. The flyweight had claimed bronze at the 1968 Olympics.

John Mugabi – Silver, 1980 Moscow Olympics

The Beast was quite the appropriate nickname for a boxer born in the golden era of middleweights. Mugabi claimed Uganda’s only medal at the 1980 Olympics, before winning the WBC light middleweight champion nine years later.

Davis Kamoga – Bronze, 1996 Atlanta Olympics

In winning 400m bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Davis Kamoga took many rivals by surprise. But above all, he caught out the nation of Uganda. Kamoga’s best achievement at the time had been his eighth-place finish in the semi-finals of the 1995 World Athletics Championship. 

Moses Ndiema Kipsiro – 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games

It’s difficult and probably unnecessary to separate Moses Kipsiro’s double-gold at 2010 Commonwealth Games. It’s not that neither accomplishment can stand alone. It’s just that when put together, Kipsiro’s 5,000 and 10,000m gold in Delhi capture the depth of what he did.



Uganda’s post-Independence era has had its share of sports stars. But there are those that stand out: the crème de la crème whose spellbinding feats have since 1962 thrust Uganda into the headlines. James Bakama zeroed in on the top 13 athletes.


John Akii-Bua

He is undoubtedly Uganda’s biggest sports figure. Running at a time when medals in events like the 400m hurdles were thought to be a preserve of countries like the US and Great Britain, he shot into the limelight setting a new order. He won Uganda’s first Olympic gold, but he also did so in a new world record (47.82 seconds) at the 1972 games.

RELATED: Uganda's haunted Olympic hero


Stephen Kiprotich

It took Uganda 40 years to strike gold again at the Olympics. Stephen Kiprotich was the man who thrust Uganda back into the headlines winning the marathon at the London 2012 Games and at the Moscow World Championships the following year.

John “The Beast” Mugabi

He is one the most devastating punchers to have graced the ring. He knocked out all his opponents before losing by a split points decision in the welterweight final of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Mugabi then embarked on a sterling prize fighting career that climaxed in a world title in 1989.

Ayub Kalule

He is one of the best talents to have sprouted from Africa. Kalule is the only Ugandan boxer to have won both the amateur and professional world titles.

He first punched his way into the limelight in 1974 in Havana, Cuba when he won gold at the first World Amateur Boxing Championships. He also won the WBA light middleweight title in 1979.

 Leo Rwabwogo

The light flyweight stands out for being the only Ugandan to have won two Olympic medals. He first punched his way to a bronze at the 1968 Mexico games before going a step better with silver at the next games in Munich.

Davis Kamoga

After starting off as a footballer, Kamoga accidentally discovered his running skills in 1994. After breaking the national 400m record at a Permit meet in Nairobi the following year he got bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic. He also got a silver at the World Championships the following year.

Eridad Mukwanga

The bantamweight makes this list for winning Uganda’s first medal at the Olympics. He fought his way to a silver in Mexico.

Dorcus Inzikuru

She is the only Ugandan female athlete to have won a world title. She shot into prominence with a steeplechase gold at the 2005 World Championships and at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Moses Kipsiro

He got silver at the 2007 World Championships in Tokyo. He also has a world cross-country silver and bronze on top of three Commonwealth Games gold medals. He is also a two time African champion.

Phillip Omondi

His football wizardry had the Cranes reaching the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations final. He was a top scorer with Ghana’s Opoku Afriyie and Nigeria’s Segun Odegbami.

Joshua Cheptegei

Joshua Cheptegei is, at two gold medals and a silver from the World Athletics Championship, undoubtedly one of the most successful Ugandan sportsmen. Besides all that Cheptegei also has a Diamond League title, World Cross-country and university gold medals, two 2018 Commonwealth golds and an African title.


Halima Nakaayi

 As only the second Ugandan woman to win a major world title, Nakaaayi is a big Ugandan star. She won gold at the jus- concluded World Athletics Championships. Her gold medal was not only the second by a Ugandan woman but it also came in a new national record.

RELATED: Nakaayi is the new world 800m champion!

Peace Proscovia

She also stands out for twice leading Uganda to the World Cup. She also captained Uganda to African titles as she also became the first Ugandan to play professional netball. That was in England where she led her club to the national title. She is currently pursuing yet another professional career in Australia.


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