We salute Uganda’s female stars at the Tokyo Olympics
The much-anticipated Tokyo Olympics Games kicked off on July 23 after a year of waiting. The quadrennial event was due to run last year before the Covid-19 pandemic saw it postponed. Although the games have now come to an end, we shine a light on the female athletes that represented Uganda at the games.
Chemutai’s name has now been registered in Uganda’s history books as the first Ugandan woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport. The 22-year-old aced the 3,000m steeplechase in a time of 9:01:45 ahead of America’s Courtney Frerichs with silver and Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng who secured bronze.
She follows in the footsteps of Dorcus Inzikuru who won the inaugural world title in women’s 3000m steeplechase in addition to the first Commonwealth title in the event.
Of Uganda’s 11 Olympic medals so far, nine have been won by men with gold being won by John Akii Bua at Munich 1972, and marathon runner Stephen Kiprotich at the London 2012 and recently at the Tokyo Olympics.
Chemutai has a history of high-level finishes on the international stage. She also won silver medals in the 1500m and 3000m at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia. While competing at the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, she finished in 7th place. She also finished in 7th place at the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase event in Poland.
In 2018, she won herself a silver medal at the 2018 World Junior Championships in the 3000m steeplechase while she finished 5th at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Denmark.
A total of 12 women athletes represented Uganda at the Olympics in Tokyo which is the highest number ever to qualify for the Olympics. The women were representing Uganda in a arnge of different disciplines including rowing, boxing and different races.
Born in Luweero to Irish parents, Noble made history by becoming the first Ugandan rower to qualify for the Olympics. A biologist by profession, Noble has represented Uganda at a global level in other disciplines such as swimming at the Swimming World Championship recording a national record in 50m butterfly. Despite not making it to the finals for the rowing competitions at the Olympics, Noble represented her country well, beginning the history of Olympics rowing sport for Uganda.
Nanziri also made history by being the first Ugandan female boxer to qualify for the Olympics. She is a flyweight boxer whose achievements include winning silver at the 2018 National Intermediates and the 2019, National open. The 21- year old lost to host nation Japan’s Namiki Tsukimi in the round of 32 but still made history for Uganda.
Nanyondo represented Uganda in the 1,500m race at the Olympics in Tokyo. She has flown the Uganda flag high at several events including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland where she won bronze in 800m, the 2016 Olympics, the 2012 World Junior championships in Athletics and the 2014 World university Cross Country Championships among others. She qualified for the 1500m finals in Tokyo and finished seventh with a time of 3:59.80.
The 26-year-old represented the country for the second time at the Olympics having competed in Rio 2016. In 2011, Nakaayi made Uganda proud after she won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 400m as well as at the 2019 world Championships in Doha, Qatar.
The youngest member of the Ugandan Olympic team was swimmer Kirabo Namutebi who is only 16 years old. The teenager was able to qualify for the Olympics because they were postponed. She was 15 years old last year making her ineligible to compete. When she was ten, Namutebi competed at her first Cana Zone IV Championship in 2017. She broke records and bagged three medals including two silvers and one bronze. Namutebi is also a national record holder of the 50m freestyle national record posted at the World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Other participants were Esther Chebet in the 5000m, Sarah Chelengat who is the national record holder for 5,000m and 10,000m,the marathon athletes Juliet Chekwel and Immaculate Chemutai, , Racheal Zana Chebet for 10,000m and Leni Shida the sprinter.