L-R: Kevin O'Connor, Leni's father, Shida Leni and Sue O'Connor celebrate at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole Credit: K.O Team

The coaching team of Kevin and Sue O’Connor has lavished praise on Ugandan sprinter Shida Leni after she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Kevin and Sue O’Connor alongside her London-based manager, Jeff Freeman – supported Leni in reaching the milestone, the former having started working with her since August 2013.

The couple has watched the 27-year-old rise as she put all her efforts on training well in pursuit of glory. Talking up her journey, Kevin and Sue credited her hardwork.

“We have seen Shida, on a huge number of occasions, push herself to the point of exhaustion in track training at Kampala’s Mandela National Stadium (Namboole), or in weight-training at Silver Springs Hotel’s Espace Gym,” read a statement released by the couple.

“The big improvement in her 400m time (from 55.80 sec in 2013 to her current 2019 National Record of 51.47 sec) that her efforts have generated, mean that she has now raced in 20 different countries on 4 continents (Africa; Europe; Asia; Australasia).

“And, next year, if she can qualify for the World Championships in Eugene, this will add a 5th continent (the Americas) to her tally.

“Such wonderful exposure, to different countries and their cultures, is just reward for the effort she has put in.

“Unless you have been an athlete yourself, it is difficult to understand the discipline and pain that such training and racing involves.

They added; “And she has done all this, while concurrently obtaining a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counselling at Bugema University. Shida Leni is a special Ugandan.”

Leni – who will become the first Ugandan sprinter to compete at the Olympics for very many years – impressed at last month’s races in Italy and Switzerland where she amassed enough ranking points.

Ranked in the 41st position, the 2019 African Games bronze medalist intends to smash the National Record in Tokyo. The women’s 400 metres will take place over three separate days (3rd, 4th and 6th August) at the Japan National Stadium.

Deputy Editor at Kawowo Sports. He is an aspiring Sport Psychologist.

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