WORLD PARA ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017
LONDON - He has done it again. He has won another first for Uganda.
David Emong has again entered Uganda's history books after he took gold in the men's 1500m T46 final Saturday evening at the ongoing World Para Athletics Championships in London, UK.
This is Uganda's first ever gold medal at this particular competition, which is in its eighth edition.
Paralympic silver medallist Emong, just like in Rio last year, did not disappoint.
It was a thrilling sprint finish in the final as he had to shake off defending champion Algerian Nouioua Samir and European silver medallist Stoyanov Hristiyan of Bulgaria to also set a new personal best time of 3:58.36.
Samir took silver with a time of 3:58.78 while Hristiyan settled for bronze with a new personal best of 3:58.94.
The final lap of the race did well to lift the crowd. Coming around the bend for the home straight, Samir, who had let Hristiyan dictate the race from the word go, finally made his move. But Emong, in third all along, was also building up momentum, breathing heavily behind their backs.
Samir dashed into the lead as Emong overtook the Bulgarian in a thrilling three-way topsy-turvy conclusion. And with 50 metres to go, the Ugandan athlete turned on the burners and peeled away from his challengers to burst across the finish line with micro-seconds separating them.
Emong then continued trotting on the track as he flashed the number-one sign with his index finger. He had done what no other Ugandan had done in this competition.
And what a delightful moment it was for him as he savoured a huge applause and standing ovation from the entertained crowd during his victory lap!
It's only 10 months ago that Emong won Uganda's first ever Paralympics medal in Rio de Janeiro. This time round, he outraced the man who beat him to the gold in Brazil: Algeria's Samir.
A world champion!
'I knew it was mine'
Saturday's performance at the iconic London Stadium saw Emong knock nearly two seconds off the time he did in Rio (4:00.62).
The victory did not surprise the 27-year-old disabled athlete, as he revealed after the race.
“I was expecting to win because I have been training at altitude with Uganda’s champions Moses Kipsiro and Stephen Kiprotich. Last year I wasn’t ready to win (...) but this time I was ready and in the last 100m I knew it was mine," he is quoted as saying.
The 10-day competition, featuring 213 medal events and about 1,300 athletes, kicked off on Friday (July 14) and will run until July 23.
It's a busy summer for London as the city is due to host the 2017 IAAF World Championships (August 4-13).
Meanwhile, Uganda's athletes have also been busy elsewhere. Not thousands of miles away, but right next door: in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
It's the final day of the IAAF World U18 Championships which has been on since Wednesday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. Uganda, yet to feature on the medals table, has only today (Sunday) to do so.
Two track events present the opportunity.
Titus Given Kwemoi and Oscar Chelimo will take part in the boys 3000m final while Joel Kiplangat is eyeing a podium finish in the boys 2000m steeplechase final.
The 3000m final is at 4.25pm local time while the 2000m steeplechase final takes place at 5.10pm.
Those are the two races Ugandans should keep a keen eye on.