A large number of athletes across the world will miss the Rio Olympic Games due to several factors. Some, like a section of Russians, are banned following doping allegations, another batch have been let down by injuries while others are just not good enough.
Ugandan middle-distance runner Dorcus Ajok will not be heading to Rio, too. She is neither banned nor injured, yet she could have been on her way to Brazil but for an unfortunate fall. "It is just God's plan I won't be going to Rio," the 800m runner told Daily Monitor.
Fresh from winning double 800m and 1500m gold at the All-Africa University Games in South Africa early this month, Ajok returned to Kampala with one ultimate goal - earning a ticket to her maiden Olympics.
Ajok wanted to hit her target at the two-day National Track and Field Championships held on July 6-7 at Namboole. A day after winning the 1500m in 4:20.50, the Prisons runner returned to Namboole for the 800m.
In the final of the two-lap race, Ajok started well, chasing the already qualified pacesetter Winnie Nanyondo and Halima Nakaayi. Nanyondo set a terrific pace and dropped out with 200m to run. Nakaayi briefly assumed the lead before the fired up Ajok overtook her. Because she was running at a national record-breaking pace, the few spectators at Namboole were thrilled and roared her on. She peeled away and created a big gap on Nakaayi. However, with about five metres to finish, Ajok tripped and agonisingly staggered to the ground.
Knowing that she could have crawled and still qualified for the Olympics, race officials nearby urged her to move on her fours to the finish line. She could not react in time. "She was so close," Prisons coach Nalis Bigingo said moments after. "The race was so fast. She could have won in about 1:59.00."
The 2011 Commonwealth Youth 400m gold medallist Nakaayi, striding fast, crossed to win in 2:01.44, beating the Olympic mark by 0.6 seconds. As she wheeled away in celebration for her maiden Olympic ticket with Nanyondo, Ajok was being carried off the track by teammates, oozing tears amid the beaming heat.
"It's so hurting," Ajok said in the interview. One could easily notice that she still recalls that dark day of July 7. "I felt I was fit enough, I had done everything right to hit the Olympic grade on that day. Everyone in that race wanted to qualify and I expected to run a good time," she added.
That she was just literally five metres to Rio can be considered as bad luck. But she doesn't believe she was unlucky like many have suggested.
"We all have different opportunities and times. May be it was not my turn to go for the Olympics," she noted. Had it not been that misfortune, she would have toasted to a perfect 24th birthday present five days later. So what next?
"With God's protection and mercy I can run well and qualify for next year's London World Championships and the World University Games in Taiwan," the Diploma in Development Studies student at Ndejje University added.
Source: The Monitor.