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Athletics proves a success despite several wrangles

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th December 2003 03:00 AM

THE wrangles that set back the season proved tough but sheer determination and focus led to a relatively successful year

THE wrangles that set back the season proved tough but sheer determination and focus led to a relatively successful year

By Norman Katende

THE wrangles that set back the season proved tough but sheer determination and focus led to a relatively successful year.

As the athletes tried their best to have a competitive season, improving their personal best and in the event, setting a total of eight national records —better than last year’s five - the administrators were busy fighting wars.

The federation was embroiled in wrangles, which saw the postponement of the assembly and the formation of an interim committee to run athletics.

But like last season, the athletes remained unperturbed and youngsters Boniface Kiprop and Dorcus Inzikuru proving their ability; setting three new national records each on top of claiming medals in international competitions and performing well in the invitation permit meets.

They lived to their goals of improving their personal best times this season.

“I am so happy to be voted the sportsman of the year ... I will work had to see that I improve my times,” said Inzikuru, after being told that she was the sports personality for the year 2002.

This year, she was voted best sports personality for the months of January and October, while her counterpart Kiprop took the accolade in March, May and August accolades to leave athletics with five monthly awards in the country with over 35 recognised sporting disciplines.

The emergence of Mike Ezra as an athletics sponsor by facilitating some members to the World cross-country looked well intended. He even promised to build a sh200m training camp in Kapchwora and has started holding lucrative cross country circuits.

Ezra’s arrival however caused antagonism in the sport. Two rival factions grew, one pro-him and the other anti. The two groups have clashed in administrative battles over the year.

Back on the track field, Kiprop’s World junior cross country individual silver medal - the highlight of the season, coupled with a team bronze in March illuminated the early season. But unlike last year, he never went into oblivion after.

He added a double gold in the Africa Junior championship, and despite missed a medal at the All Africa Games, he finished the season with another bronze at the maiden Afro-Asian games in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

Kiprop went on to improve his times, shattering three national records including the 3000m record, which he broke twice.

Inzikuru followed suit in her second year in the senior category, ending her season with an African 3000m steeplechase joint record of 9:39.51. She also set new national records in the mile and 3000m on top of winning Uganda’s only athletic, and the entire team’s best, medal — a 5000m silver at the All Africa Games and a another bronze at the Afro-Asian games.

But the debate of Ezra’s position on the Athletics scene threatened to undermine the season. ended up in a mess.

Endless quarrels between the Ezra Track Team Board and the local governing body have consistently made headlines.

Regrettably, the biggest loser of all was athletics. A certain team of youngsters failed to travel for the world junior championships where all the tickets had been paid for by IAAF. Reason for the team’s failure was UAAF, and National Council of Sports failed to trace the person keeping their passports. The same problem allegedly befell track star Margaret Nakintu at the All Africa Games.

Perhaps the biggest development of the second half of the year concerned the earnings of Inzikuru and Kiprop.

The worst scene of the season was the parading of Inzikuru’s parents before the press.

But despite all the blemishes, two gold, four silver and four bronze was not a bad return especially in a federation filled with rivalry.

An improvement in the unity of all stakeholders will favour preparations for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Athletics proves a success despite several wrangles

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