2 August 2012

Uganda: Kipsiro Our Best Bet for a Medal

The British press says Mo Farah is the man to beat in the long distance races when track and field starts at the Olympics tomorrow.

Team Uganda seem to believe them, and athletics chief Dominic Otuchet has for the past one week been reading any publication on Mo Farah he can get his hands on."We need to know what he is thinking and planning so we prepare adequately," Otuchet said at the Games Village.

National coach Faustino Kiwa has also done a thorough study and was quick to dismiss the Somalia-born Briton's chances."Farah, is at home and he has a way he does his races," Kiwa said as he showed deep knowledge of the 5000 & 10000m ace.

"The last 3 laps he takes them very hard, but this time I am not sure it will work, as people have seen him run and will train for him. He will have crowd support but in athletics crowd support does not do much."

The obsession with Farah is understandable because he stands in the way of Uganda's main hope for a first Olympics medal since 1996 when Davis Kamoga won 400m bronze.

Kiwa is confident Commonwealth champion Moses Kipsiro, Abraham Kiplimo and Thomas Ayeko will be the athletes to watch in the first final Ugandans compete in Saturday night. "The 10,000m race is going to be tactical. No one will want to take the lead and the race will be won in the last lap," Kiwa warned.

Uganda will compete in the marathon (men and women), the 10,000m, the 5,000m, 3,000m steeplechase (men and women), the 1500m and 800m.

The best Uganda has been able to get to 10,000m glory has been fourth place for Kipsiro (Beijing 5000m) and Boniface Kiprop (Athens, 10000m).

Competition for the Ugandan athletes however starts Friday at 3pm with the men's 3000m Steeplechase action. Jacob Araptany, 20 and Benjamin Kiplagat, 23 have enough to see them to advance through their heats Friday.

Kiwa promised to upset the fancied Kenyans. " We will want to spoil the party for them this time. With Jacob and Kiplagat you never know what will happen. We have a chance, it might not be 100 percent, but it is good."

On why they pulled Araptany out of the 1,500m, he insisted. " His best race is the steeplechase. We removed him from a participatory race, to a competitive race."

A day later, Kipsiro will be hunting for the only accolade that has eluded him over the past seven yearns - an Olympic medal. Just like at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games where he won two gold medals, he has entered both the 5000 and 10000m.

Athletics federation president Otuchet is confident the long wait to break the jinx is now. "We have been able to train hard and this time we will win a medal."

While all focus is on the Kipsiro, the other person who could surprise is Stephen Kiprotich. The national marathon record holder showed early this year what he is capable of by finishing third in the Tokyo Marathon. Haile Gebrselassie (sixth) was one of those in his wake.

Stamina shouldn't be a problem because the long distance runners have been in high altitude training in the Kenyan highlands for a month. They however face very stiff competition from Ethiopia and Kenya.

Kenya has had one of its best preparations ever. They are this time determined to beat Ethiopia.

Kenya's athletics team, boasting three Olympic and four world champions, enjoyed their best ever showing at an Olympics four years ago in Beijing and their 16 medals - six of them gold - all came on the track at the Bird's Nest stadium.

Still talking of possible surprises, none comes in a better package than Dorcus Inzikuru who made a last minute entry to the Olympic team. Coach Kiwa is confident she will be a threat if she reaches the final.

"She has the mental strength, she might not be 100 per cent fit, but if she succeeds to go to the finals, she is not the type who can easily give up. It will give her a lot of confidence," Kiwa said.

With a confident Ugandan team in place, let the Olympics begin.



3.00pm - Men's steeplechase Round 1


1.35pm - Women's steeplechase Round 1

11.15pm - Men's 10,000m FINAL


11.25pm - Men's steeplechase FINAL

1.00pm - Women's marathon FINAL


12.50pm - Men's 800m round 1

1.45pm - Women's 1,500m Round 1

11.05pm - Women's 3000m steeplechase FINAL


9.55pm - Men's 800m Semifinals


12.45pm - Men's 5000m Round 1

9.45pm - Women's 1500 Semifinals


10.00pm - Men's 800m FINAL

Friday August 10

10.55pm - Women's 1500m FINAL

Saturday August 11

9.30pm - Men's 5000m FINAL

Sunday August 12

1.00pm - Men's Marathon FINAL

6.00pm - Closing ceremony.

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