Represented by 62 athletes in 11 disciplines, Uganda is sending her biggest team ever at the Commonwealth Games, but turning numbers into medals will be a tall order. Moses Mugalu profiles some of Uganda’s key participants in Glasgow. Moses Kipsiro
The defending champion bids to retain his 5,000 and 10,000 metre titles, which he won four years ago in New Delhi, India. But Kipsiro is in for the toughest of tasks. Apart from his recurrent knee and hamstring injuries threat, the 28-year-old faces Britain’s Mo Farah, the respective 5,000m and 10,000 metres Olympic and World champion.
In the build-up to the Games, Kipsiro has struggled with injuries and his form, as expected hit rock bottom, while Farah revelled in glory following his sensational performances at the 2012 Olympics in London and the World Championships in Moscow last year. However, it cannot be over for 28-year-old Kipsiro who has already sounded the battle drums by declaring that he will be fit to defend his titles in Glasgow.
In an interview last week, Kipsiro told The Observer that he had shrugged off the hamstring injury and he hoped to see off the troublesome knee in time for the athletics events schedule, starting July 27 at Hampden Park stadium. Against such odds, Kipsiro hopes to repeat his 2010 historic 5,000m and 10,000m double Commonwealth gold triumph.
The 20-year-old turned out the surprise package on his international debut at the World Championships in Moscow last year and he hopes to build on that experience for improved results in Glasgow.
In Moscow, Musagala, a former amateur village football player in his native Kaliro, became centre of attraction as he qualified from the 800-metre heats to storm the semifinal stage of the race. But the Kampala University student’s form dipped due to injury setbacks although he declared himself fully fit last week. He acknowledges that he has a fantastic chance to prove that his eye-catching performance in Moscow wasn’t a one-off.
Musagala only switched to athletics in 2010 when he participated for the first time in competitive races and moved on to make his mark at the East Africa youth championships and the national championships last year.
Fazil Juma Kaggwa
The 19-year-old pugilist makes his debut at the Commonwealth Games but his experience from last year’s World Youth championships (in Armenia) could come in handy. His former coach at Kampala Boxing Club (KBC), Hassan Muhammed, says the young boxer has the ability to stand up against the best light flyweights in the ring because of his power and speed.
He fought back to reclaim the national team slot after losing the flyweight title in the National Open early this year. This underlines Semitala’s big heart once he steps in the ring. A fast and power puncher, the 21-year-old has international exposure from the world youth championships last year.
The exciting bantamweight hotshot makes his international debut on the back of his unbeaten run in the National Open and Trials held early this year. A household name and newfound hero at the Naguru-based East Coast Boxing Club, 20-year-old Bashir will contest as an outsider but boasts of potential to turn the odds.
Kezaala Solomon Geko
Another debutant at this stage, but he has demonstrated his ability in the few local events including the National Open in which he clinched the heavyweight title early this year.
Having competed in the three World Military Games editions and a couple of regional events, the 27-year-old is the most senior and experienced boxer on the team. The UPDF super heavyweight is at his prime and makes a good bet on medal bracket prospect in Scotland.
There is no doubt the Commonwealth Games is some sort of apprenticeship for the national rugby sevens team. But whereas the team doesn’t stand a chance, skipper Michael Wokorach could leave an impressive mark.
There couldn’t be a better person on the squad to lead the team. Wokorach is a tested and proven leader, who has been at this stage and knows the weight that the team carries to correct the errors made in Delhi.The reigning Uspa Rugby player of the year also doubles as Heathens captain and has the abilities to roar the young squad on.
Along with his brother Philip Wokorach, who overcame a career-ending injury last year, the pair is expected to play pivotal role in orchestrating Uganda’s efforts against England, Australia and Sri Lanka. It’s worth noting the ruggers suffered a whitewash at the hands of the same opponents during the last edition of the Games in Delhi in 2010.
Source : The Observer