A record number of countries will participating in a record number of sports at the ongoing 2016 Olympics games whose opening ceremony is set for Friday August 5.

21 of the 11,239 athletes will be representing Uganda at the Rio Games but who are these athletes looking to win Gold for the Pearl of Africa.

Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei

Cheptegei is the captain of Team Uganda at the Games. The long distance runner who also took part in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China will compete in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

The 20-year-old whose season best this year in the 5,000m is 13:00.60 will have to beat favourite and 2012 Gold medalist Mo Farah from Great Britain as well as Kenyan Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and a number of Ethiopians.

Stephen Kiprotich

Kiprotich is arguably Uganda’s most celebrated athlete and will be in Rio as a defending champion, having bagged gold on the final day of the 2012 Olympics in London.

He also won gold at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, although at the subsequent World Championship in 2015 in Beijing, he finished sixth.

Kiprotich, 27, has been impressive in almost every major race, finishing among the top ten on most occasions and without doubt carries much of Uganda’s medal hopes in Brazil.

Solomon Mutai

Uganda’s realistic medal chances are in Marathoners. The belief in Uganda’s road athletes seems to have grown in recent times after Kiprotich’s expedition.

Solomon Mutai won Bronze at the World Championships in Beijing last year. Mutai, 24, who has moved through different races until he discovered himself as a road runner also holds medal hopes for Uganda.   

 Jackson Kiprop

Kiprop is the most experienced of the three male marathoners. He has finished tenth in the marathons held at the last two World Athletics Championships in Beijing last year and Moscow in 2013.

If his experience does not spring a surprise, then it will atleast get Kiprotich and Mutai going for the podium.

Jacob Kiplimo

Kiplimo is the youngest member of Team Uganda. Born 16 years ago, Kiplimo is the future of Uganda’s long distance track events.

At his first major event, Kiplimo won the 10000m bronze at the just concluded World Junior Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The youngster will be competing in the 5000m in Rio and it will be another event for him to develop.

Though his season best 13:19.54 set in Ponzano Veneto back in June is well under the Olympic qualification threshold, a medal is too much to ask for.

Phillip Kipyeko

Kipyeko has made a name more in the cross country but he will be competing in the 5000m.

Having dominated the National Cross Country over the past couple of years, Kipyeko will be looking to announce his arrival at the maiden Olympic Games after failing to make last year’s World Championships.

Moses Martin Kurong

Like Jacob Kiplimo, 22-year-old Kurong will make his Olympics debut in Rio competing in the 1000m.

Kurong qualified during the Golden Spike Championships in Leiden, Netherlands in June when he set a season best 27:27.43.

Given he’s competing in an event Mo Farah has dominated and stacked as well, it will be surprising to get into the medal bracket.

Timothy Toroitich

Toroitich has shown improvement in both time and position in the last two major Athletics events.

Having finished 22nd in 28 minutes and 33 seconds at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, the 24-year-old finished 8th in 27 minutes and 44 seconds at last year’s World Championships in Beijing.

If that improvement is anything to go by, then may be and just may be…

Benjamin Kiplagat

Kiplagat will be competing in his third Olympics.

Heading into the Beijing Games eight years ago, Kiplagat looked like the next best thing for track and field in the country particularly in the 3000m steeplechase.

He only finished ninth in 2008 and bettered by two places in the subsequent 2012 Games in London.

However, the dismal performances in the World Championships that followed in 2013 and 2015 where he finished 14th and 31st respectively bodes no good.

Jacob Araptany

Araptany did not make the finals in his debut at Olympics in London four years ago.

While he is going to compete in Rio more experienced, the 3000m steeplechase runner gives no medal hopes.

Adero Nyakisi

At 30, Nyakisi will possibly be competing at her last Olympics with probably her last chance of claiming a place at the world stage.

We can only wait to see what the marathoner will make of it.

Juliet Chekwel

Chekwel competed at last year’s World Championships in Beijing and was four places outside the medal bracket in 10,000m the same event she will be competing in at this year’s Olympics.

Having set a new National Record of 31:37.99 back in April when she won the Inter-Club 10,000m race in Rubeira, Italy, Chekwel gives real optimism.

Peruth Chemutai

Chemutai won Uganda Athletics Federation Upcoming Athlete Award of 2015.

The Award followed Chemutai’s Commonwealth Youth Games display in Samoa, where she won two silver medals in the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase.

 The 17-year-old will only be making the Olympic debut and medal burden is quite heavy to bear given the experience at this stage.

Stella Chesang

Chesang has just started a senior career. She will be competing in the 5,000m event in which she set a personal best of 15:10.30 at the IAAF World Challenge in Hengelo, Netherlands to qualify for Rio.

Will she make the Olympic debut with a bang?

Winnie Nanyondo

Winnie Nanyondo got her international career started in 2012 at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona. She also took part the 2013 World University Games in Russia.

The Commonwealth Games Bronze medalist made the Olympic grade in Leiden when she crossed the finish line in 2:00:57.

With South Africa’s Caster Semenya dominating 800m races this year and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba not far away, it remains to be seen if Nanyondo can run her way to the Olympic podium.

Halima Nakaayi

Nakaayi was Uganda’s last track and field athlete to qualify for the Rio Olympics and she will have her friend Winnie Nanyondo to thank for setting the pace during the last National Trials at Namboole.

Having beaten the 2:01.50 qualification mark by a mere 0.6 seconds, you can’t ask a lot from the 2011 Commonwealth Youth 400m gold medalist.

Ronald Serugo

The Flyweight boxer competed at the 2008 Beijing Games and he has probably accumulated experience as a semi-pro boxer over the last three years in Sweden.

Serugo won bronze at 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique which could also push him for more.

Kennedy Katende

Besides 2012 London Olympics marathon gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich, the other real medal hopeful for Uganda is Kennedy Katende going by his experienced at the Beijing Games in 2008 when he represented Sweden.

We can hope that the bronze the Light Heavyweight boxer won at the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville can motivate him to get an Olympic medal for the country.

Franklin Kaweru is the Editor in Chief of Kawowo Sports. He is an ardent basketball enthusiast.

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