“We shall know them by their fruits” says the Bible. These were the opening remarks by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at Kololo Ceremonial Independence Grounds in Kampala on Wednesday, 11th August 2021as he hosted the entire team Uganda delegation of officials and athletes from the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan and Sapporo cities.
This was during the official state luncheon at which the three medalists on Uganda’s Olympics team were rewarded.
The Fountain of Honour officially handed over three brand new cars to Uganda’s medalists; Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei (5000m gold medal and 10,000m silver), Peruth Chemutai (3000 m steeple chase gold) as well as Jacob Kiplimo (10,000m bronze).
He also demanded for the immediate payment of the monthly stipends of sportsmen who win Gold, Silver and Bronze at the Olympics, Common Wealth and Continental games; even clearing the arrears from as far back 2012.
The well attended event was also graced by the First Lady and the Minister of Education & Sports Janet Kataha Museveni, the Prime Minister Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Tom Butiime, Minister of State for Sports Hamson Denis Obua, Minister of State for High Education John Chrizestom Muyingo, Ambassador of Japan in Uganda, His Excellency Fukuzawa Hidemoto, Members of Parliament from the Sebei region, officials from the National Council of Sports (NCS) and Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC), Permanent secretaries, the new incoming commissioner in charge of physical education and sports as well as the media.
The president congratulated all the athletes who managed to represent team Uganda at the Games, moreso the medalists and finalists.
He spoke of the conducive environment (highlands and lowlands) as well as the stable political atmosphere that has enabled the smooth running of sports activities from time to time.
“Uganda is uniquely endowed in terms of physical features and the plateaus with the highlands a natural endowment for sportsmen who run; the lowlands for high jumpers and boxers. These different communities have different characteristics. Uganda therefore has the ability to outcompete others. The peace created by the NRM Government has produced the conducive environment for talent development” He noted.
Low cost approach of supporting sports:
The present acknowledged the total annual budget of supporting sports is still way too low but he pointed to the several low cost approaches of supporting sports.
These low cost measures include the implementation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) education programs that have helped in provision of platforms to identify talented sportsmen at the tender age.
Then, the recruitment of talented sportsmen and women into the Forces (army, police, prisons and wildlife) as a means of earning the bare-minimum salary per month.
“These are approaches well planned and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Uganda will become a sports giant. We are more focused on sports since we need organic performance. Let us implement UPE and USE fully as a catchment to identify talented sportsmen and women. This is a low cost approach that has worked. Like us, we fought a war without money” he added.
The president then handed over the cars to the three medalists, promising to build houses for the parents of the athletes and payment of the monthly stipends.
He bragged having been the coach of Joshua Cheptegei.
“I am among the coaches. I coached Joshua Cheptegei. I called him at State House Nakasero when he slid during the World Athletics Championship in Kololo, Uganda. I lectured him about conserving energy and today, he is a world champion” Museveni bragged.
The president singled out the essence of sports in promotion of the country, commending the inter-twinning of the sports and tourism sectors during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Sports publicizes the country. I remember when I visited the president of Turkey, he confessed having first heard of Uganda through John Akii Bua’s heroics during the Munich Games in 1980. This is a good and an easy way of marketing the country” he added.
He also spoke of other benefits of sports as promoting discipline, fitness, entertainment and employment.
The first lady who is also the minister in charge of Education and Sports Janet Museveni was humbled by the performance as she also recommended the Apostle Paul’s message in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians; 9:26-27.
“Thank you team Uganda” she started. “You are true ambassadors. Like the commentators said Uganda is one of the friendliest countries in the world, indeed we are. Let us learn from Team Uganda in Tokyo. Discipline is the ingredient of character. Shun negative influences that can deter your progress as you run your own race in life. I thank all the athletes, the team leaders and coaches” she stated.
The head of delegation for team Uganda in Japan, Hamson Denis Obua (minister of state for sports and MP Ajuri county) was full of appreciation for the athletes.
He hinted of the numerous meetings (as many as 21) that he chaired in Japan as way of planning further for the sports sub sector.
Obua tagged Museveni as the Golden President and Kataha as the golden first lady who issued operational orders that were followed to the dot, like battle troop commanders.
“Your team achieved the mission and purpose of representation. We made historical strides among the over 11,000 athletes at the games, 79,000 officials and 205 Olympic countries where Uganda finished 35th overall with four medals” he noted.
Obua strongly condemned the acts by weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko as unpatriotic, uncultured and unnationalistic as he promised to follow the code of conduct for punishment if need be.
Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) and National Council of Sports (NCS) chairman Donald Rukare was full of praise for the star performance at the Games, citing discipline as the key factor.
“You sent us with a message to be disciplined. For the first time ever, we had more female athletes (13) than the males (12). We were disciplined and performed. I thank the previous medalists who motivated us. I thank you for the support as well as our partners; Absa Bank Uganda, Sanlam and Lato Milk” Rukare observed.
Speaking on behalf of the athletes, Cheptegei thanked the efforts of His Excellency in building sports as well as the Ministry of Education and Sports, UOC and NCS.
He asked the president for assistance in completion of his own training center in Kapchorwa which is now at 60%.
It is my honour that you have met your Bazzukullu. My track record is a good one. When I failed during the world athletics championships in Kampala, you encouraged me. In 2018, I started the construction of the Joshua Chepetegei training center that has brought new talents as Dan Kibet and Martha Chemutai. It is now at 60 % percent and I request for help to finish it. Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) needs a bus. Also, as Kapchorwa and the Sebei sub region, we need a referral hospital.Joshua Kirpui Cheptegei, World Record Holder 5000m, 10,000m, Double Olympic 2020 medalist
Former athletes; 1994 World Junior Champion Hon. Julius Achon (recently inducted into the Olympians for life family), Dorcus Inzikuru, Davis Kamoga were also granted an opportunity to address His Excellency.
Team Uganda Delegation:
Esther Chebet, Sarah Chelangat, Albert Chemutai, Prisca Chesang, Ronald Musagala, Winnie Nanyondo, Halima Nakaayi, Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Oscar Chelimo, Stephen Kissa, Peruth Chemutai, Mercyline Chelangat, Immaculate Chemutai, Juliet Chekwel, Stephen Kiprotich, Filex Chemongesi, Fred Musobo, Shida Leni
Catherine Nanziri, Musa Shadir Bwogi, David Kavuma Ssemujju
Grace Kathleen Noble
Kirabo Namutebi, Ambala Atuhaire
Hon Denis Hamson Obua (head of delegation), William Blick (IOC Member), Dr Donald Rukare (President NOC), Beatrice Ayikoru (Chef De Mission), Dr. Bernard Patrick Ogwel (General Team manager), Dr. Jacqueline Nana Nakiddu (Team doctor), Prossy Namusisi (Physitherapist), Tom Oomen (Physiotherapist), Shadiah Nakamanya (Chaperone), Aisha Nassanga (Media Liaison), Elijah Njawuzi (Team Admin), Ivan Mugowa (Team Admin), Moses Mwase (NOC), Ganzi Mugula (Athletes Representative)
Adrianus Ruiter (Coach, Athletics – Tokyo), Faustino Kiwa (Coach, Athletics – Sapporo), Gordon Ahimbisibwe (Coach, Athletics – Sapporo), Domenic Otucet (Official – Athletics, Tokyo), Margaret Ijala (Coach – Athletics, Tokyo), Narisesio Bigingo (Coach – Athletics, Tokyo), Benjamin Njia (Coach – Athletics, Tokyo), Andrew Sorowen (Official – Athletics, Tokyo), Patrick Lihenda (Coach, Boxing), Hassan Mohammed Mulandi (Coach, Boxing), Rodrick Muhumuza (Coach, Rowing), Ahsan Iqbal (Coach, Rowing), Muzafaru Muwanguzi (Coach, Swimming), Dunstan Nsubuga (NOC), Sadik Nasiwu (NOC), Salim Ssenkungu Musoke (ITO, Weightlifting), Aciga Fula (ITO, Boxing)