Like they say, better late than never. The project is finally steadily progressing
The High Altitude Training Centre in Teryet is many years behind schedule.
But during a visit to the centre last week, I was nevertheless relieved on realizing that the centre is finally taking shape.
Initially supposed to be ready by the 2012 Olympics, the first phase of the project will now be complete seven years after. A number of factors have been given to explain the delay.
Lack of a proper road, electricity and water plus relocation of schools in the area and compensation were cited as the main reason for the delay in the initial years.
Then even when all this was sorted, there remained a challenge of accessing the area in the rainy season. But like they say, better late than never. The project is finally steadily progressing.
Many a Ugandan project have started off as brilliant ideas, only never to take off. We should be thankful that there is finally progress in Teryet. Located 12 km outside Kapchorwa town, the centre has its first hostel, which will accommodate up to 100 people, almost complete.
The surface for the 400m track and football field is also levelled. The three km jogging route is also in advanced stages. Like someone put it, Teryet is on the verge of becoming a paradise for runners and other (endurance) athletes.
So what is it that makes Teryet so special? Teryet was chosen by the Ugandan government for this ambitious project because of its perfect altitude of 2,600m.
Training at altitude, that is, like some expert put it, is legal doping, thanks to its ability to boost oxygen-carrying red blood cells. At that height, you have limited oxygen meaning that the body produces more red blood cells.
These aid in delivery of oxygen to the muscles. This then translates in immense stamina especially when one is competing at lower altitude.
So what athletes do is train at such heights and only go for competition shortly before their races. This is in order to make the best of the altitude benefits.
That's exactly what Stephen Kiprotich did in 2012 in the Kenya highlands before winning Uganda's first Olympic medal in 40 years. It is because of training camps like Teryet that Ethiopia and Kenya have dominated long-distance training.
So just imagine the dividends when such a facility is put in Teryet. We could become the next sports superpower.
By the way, the benefits are not limited to athletics. All endurance related disciplines stand to benefit. Uganda's golden era in boxing that brought forth legends like Leo Rwabwogo, Eridad Mukwanga and Muhammad Muruli was largely a result of such training.
Prior to punching their way to international medals, these fighters trained in Mubuku camp high up in the Rwenzori mountains.
If we were very serious, we then would also revive similar camps in the Rwenzori ranges.
This region is also not short of long-distance runners as Nalis Bigingo and the late Vincent Ruguga proved.
There is therefore all reason to celebrate the progress at Teryet. By next year our sport could be totally transformed.
Indeed better late than never.