A record 22 Ugandans have qualified for the Olympics this year. Uganda will field at least 17 athletes in Rio, the biggest track and field team since 13 made it to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Halima Nakaayi (800m) and Thomas Ayeko (10000m) joined the list of qualifiers after a highly competitive two day National track and field championships Wednesday and Thursday at Mandela national stadium, Namboole.
The championships effectively marked the final qualifying opportunity for local based runners, with weekend action across the European and African circuit this weekend offering the foreign based stars a final attempt before qualifying ends July 11.
Long distance ace Ayeko benefited from the participation of four of seven marathoners who have hit the Olympic qualifying time, to win the 10000m race on Wednesdy in 27:57.03 – 3 seconds into the Rio Olympics minimum standard.
His time only ranks him 4th among the qualifiers in the race. Joshua Cheptgei (10000m and 5000m), Timothy Toroitich (10000m) and Moses Kurong (10000m) qualified with better times earlier.
Nakaayi, capitalised on a stunning run by unfortunate Dorcus Ajok and big-hearted Winnie Nanyondo, to qualify ib Thursday. Nanyondo, who has already qualified set the pace in a blistering race, Ajok then took charge but fell with a national record and Olympic qualifying meters to the tape.
Nanyondo raced past to win in 2:01.44 (Olympic qualifying time 2:01.50) and ensure a record six women will represent Uganda at an Olympics.
Up to 22 athletes have met the Olympic qualifying team, but with quotas set for all races, Uganda’s team will feature at least 17 .
Athletes who have qualified
Women 6: Winnie Nanyondo (800m), Halima Nakaayi (800m) Stella Chesang (5,000m), Peruth Chemutai (3000mSC), Juliet Chekwel (10000m) and Adero Nyakesi (marathon)
Men marathon 7: Stephen Kiprotich, Solomon Munyo Mutai, Robert Chemonges, Kiprop Jackson, Abraham Kiplimo, Alex Cheskit and Moses Kipsiro.
Men other events 8: Joshua Cheptgei (10000m and 5000m), Timothy Toroitich (10,000m), Phillip Kipyeko ( 5,000m), Ronald Musagala (1,500m) and Benjamin Kiplagat (3,000m SC), Jacob Kiplimo (5,000m), Moses Kurong (10000m), Ayeko (10000m).