FORMER world champion Dorcus Inzikuru is confident the Ugandan athletics team will return from Beijing with at least three medals. Inzzi, as she is fondly called by her fans, did not make it to the Olympic Games as she failed to recuperate in time to qualify for Beijing after giving birth to d
Medals to be won in Beijing:
47 out of 302
Menâ€™s shot-put final
Womenâ€™s 10,000m final
3000m steeplechase heats
By Loius Jadwong in Beijing
FORMER world champion Dorcus Inzikuru is confident the Ugandan athletics team will return from Beijing with at least three medals.
Inzzi, as she is fondly called by her fans, did not make it to the Olympic Games as she failed to recuperate in time to qualify for Beijing after giving birth to daughter Emmanuela in December last year.
â€œI have trained with those boys and I know how hard they work. This is their time to make a mark in the Olympics but they should train even harder now before their races,â€ Inzikuru said on phone from Kampala.
â€œTell the athletes we are praying for them and I wish them the best. I am sure the whole team will do very well and make Uganda proud,â€ she added.
Commonwealth champion Boniface Kiprop, Ugandaâ€™s Sports Personality of the Year Moses Kipsiro and 800m wonderkid Abraham Chepkirwok will lead the medal hunt when the track and field, the blue-ribbon event of the Olympics, takes off today.
Among the first races scheduled will be the 3000m steeplechase where Inzikuruâ€™s World Championship and Commonwealth Games pedigree would have assured Uganda of a medal.
Only four of the runners in the field today have run times better than Inzziâ€™s best time of 9:15.84.
The track and field events come as a relief for Africa after a less than impressive start, especially in the ring.
Uganda and Kenyaâ€™s entire boxing contingent was wiped out in two days of action at the Workerâ€™s Gymnasium.
Ugandaâ€™s only medal hopes remain in the track and field and manager Dominic Otucet belives his runners are psychologically prepared to handle the pressure. Three members of the team of seven athletes are ranked in the worldâ€™s top 10.
â€œKiprop, Kipsiro and Chepkirwok are used to the burden of carrying the countryâ€™s hopes,â€ Otucet said yesterday.
Kiprop salvaged Ugandaâ€™s pride at the All Africa Games in Algiers last year by snatching gold on the very last day of competition.
â€œThe other advantage is they are here with coach Ricky Simms, who handles them on a daily basis. He even planned their arrival time so we are all expectant,â€ Otucet said.
Despite a rich history in athletics, Uganda has had a miserable record at the Olympics since John Akii-Bua stunned the world with a world record run on his way to winning gold in the Munich 1972 Olympics.
Only Davis Kamoga has got onto the medal rostrum â€” in 1996 in Atlanta â€” but the recent form of the â€œGang of Threeâ€, Kipsiro, Kiprop and Chepkirwok, suggests Uganda is due a podium finish. Finally.
Neighbours Kenya are equally optimistic of success on the track, with coach Julius Kirwa brashly stating that they expect no less than six gold medals from their runners, starting with the menâ€™s 3000m steeplechase.
Relief for Africa as track events begin