Following Stephen Kiprotich’s heroics that saw him win a gold medal in the 42km marathon race at the Olympic Games in London that ended Sunday, Kawowo sports’ Ismael Kiyonga reminds you of some of Uganda’s sports’ men in women that are considered great in the history of the country with Stephen being the latest addition to the list of heroes.
The list contains personalities from various sports disciplines that have made Ugandans proud and also carried the country’s flag high.
Unfortunately, some have passed on but their legacy still remains intact and will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Ugandans. In no particular order, below is the list that contains my top ten;
1.) John Akii Bua (Athletics):
He is arguably Uganda’s greatest sports man of all time. Akii Bua won Uganda its first ever gold medal at the Olympics games in Munich 1972 when he set a world record of 47.82 seconds in the 400m hurdles.
The former police officer also won a gold and silver medal at the 1973 and 1978 All Africa Games in Lagos Nigeria and Algiers Algeria respectively.
His contribution to the sport was recently recognised by the International Athletics body IAAF when through the Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) inducted him into its “Hall of Fame”.
2.) Phillip Omondi (Football):
He is Uganda’s greatest footballer of all time. Omondi’s prowess in the game of football goes beyond borders and he is recognised as one of the greatest on the continent.
He led Uganda Cranes to the finals of the 1978 Nations Cup in Ghana where he also finished top scorer with four goals.
That same year, he led KCC FC to the Cecafa club championship title, the first to be won by a Ugandan club.
3.) John “The Beast” Mugabi (Boxing):
Born March 4, 1960, Mugabi is arguably the greatest boxer Uganda has ever produced. The Light-Middle weight rated boxer had 50 fights, won 42 (39 by Knock Out), Lost 7 and drew 1.
He was a silver medallist at the 1976 Junior World Championship where he lost to Herol Graham. He won a silver medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Mugabi held the WBC Light Middle weight Championshipbetween, 8th July 1989 – 31st, March 1991.
Among his most remembered fights was first round knockout win against Oemer Karadenis.
4.) Davis Kamoga (Athletics):
Before Stephen Kiprotich’s medal on Sunday, Kamoga held the record for having won the country’s last medal at the Olympic Games.
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Kamoga won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta in the 400m and then became the first Ugandan to win a medal at the 1997 World champions in Athens, Greece.
The legend won a gold medal setting his personal time of 44.37 seconds in the 400m. This is still a national record and ranks him fourth in Africa just behind Nigeria’s Innocent Egbunike, Kenya’s Samson Kitur and Charles Gitonga.
5.) Magid Musisi (Football):
Some consider him Uganda’s greatest footballer ever but not without proof. The former Pepsi and SC Villa striker holds the record for the first Ugandan footballer ever to ply his trade in Europe when he signed for French giants Stade Rennes for a whopping $180,000 in 1992.
He holds the record for winning the super league golden boot 4 times and was named Footballer of the year on two occasions.
Won lots of trophies for club and country including 6 league titles, 3 Uganda Cups, a Cecafa club title and two Cecafa Senior challenge cup with The Cranes.
Statics further indicate that he scored 144 league goals and grabbed three national team hat tricks with the one against Rwanda in 1998 the most memorable.
Magid Musisi may be long gone but anyone who knows an ounce of Ugandan football history and sports in general, his place among the legends is unquestionable.
6.) Dorcus Inzikuru (Athletics):
She might have been a disappointment at the London 2012 Olympic Games but Inzikuru is a legend when it comes to sports in Uganda.
The Arua born athlete holds the record for winning the inaugural World title in Women’s 3000m steeplechase in Helsinki, Finland in 2005 finishing the event in 9:18.24 and also the first Commonwealth Games title in Melbourne in 2006.
The 2005 gold medal ended Uganda’s 33-year wait for an athletics world title. That had last happened in 1972 with John Akii Bua. Inzikuru also won a bronze medal in the 5000 m at the 2003 Afro-Asian Games and went on to win the cross country at the Euro cross.
She won a silver medal at the 2002 Africa Games in 5000 m, a gold medal at the 2000 World Junior Championship.
7.) Sam Ssali (Motor sport):
Sam Ssali is regarded as the greatest rally driver in Uganda ever. He might not have won the ARC like Charles Muhangi but he remains a symbol for Motor sport in the country.
He holds a record for winning four consecutive National Rally Championships (NRC) in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992. Only him and Charlie Lubega have managed to win the national title four times but the difference is that his came in a row.
8.) Moses Ndiema Kipsiro (Athletics):
He had an Olympic tournament in London 2012 to forget but there is no denying the fact that Kipsiro is among Uganda’s greatest sports personalities and perhaps the most decorated athlete on the land.
The 26 year old Kipsiro has won lots of middles that include; a bronze at the Osaka World championships in 5000 m in 2007, silvers medal at the 2010 Split Continental Cup in 3000 m and 5000 m.
Kipsiro also won gold medals in 5000 m in the 2007 and 2011 All Africa Games in Algeria and Mozambique respectively.
He won a silver medal at the 2008 IAAF world athletics Finals in the 5000 m race. In 2009, he finished second at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships with a time of 35:04 minutes.
Kipsiro also won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in 2010 in both the 5000 m and 10000 m categories. Besides the medals, Kipsiro holds the national record in the 3000, 5000 and 10000 metres races.
Kipsiro has also won medals at the IAAF Golden League competitions; bronze in the 2007 editions in Brussels (5000 m) and Zurich (3000 m) plus gold at the Paris events in the 3000 m.
Kipsiro’s other medals are; gold at the 2005 Zagreb IAAF in 3,000 m silver at the 2007 Monaco event plus silver at the 2006 and 2010 Africa Championships in 5,000 m and 10, 000 in Bambous and Nairobi respectively and then gold at Bambous in 10,000 m in 2006.
9.) Stephen Kiprotich (Athletics):
The 23 year old will forever be remembered in the history of Ugandan sport for that last gasp gold medal in the 2012 London Olympic marathon.
Kiprotich becomes only the second Ugandan to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games with his idol John Akii Bua winning the first 40 years ago.
The medal won in 20:08:01 is also the first since Davis Kamoga’s bronze way back in 1996. In 2011, he set a new Enschede Marathon record when he finished the race in 2:07:20 which is still a national record.
He finished third in the Tokyo Marathon early this year with a time of 2:07:50. His best years might be ahead of him but no doubt about his legendary status after Sunday’s win.
10.) Hassan Badru Zziwa (Journalism):
Unlike the rest, he does not and neither did he play any sport to the highest level but his contribution to the sports sector in the country is immense.
Zziwa’s effort in research about all sports disciplines in Uganda needs recognition. To many, he is the encyclopaedia of local sport and for that matter; he deserves a slot in the top ten greatest sports personalities the country has ever produced. The Observer media ltd guru is a living legend whose presence must be utilised to the maximum.
*** Information from Wikipedia, IAAF, The daily monitor, Observer newspaper and The New vision were used in compiling this article ***