First Batch of Ugandan Athletes Sets off for World Championship

Six athletes for the 2023 World Athletics Championship have been flagged off at the National Council of Sports – NCS Headquarters in Lugogo.

The championship starts on Saturday, August 19th and will run to 27th August 2023, with Uganda sending 20 athletes across different fields, including sprints, middle distances, long distances, and marathons.

The first batch composed of long-distance runners led by Joshua Cheptegei will depart for Budapest on Thursday. The second batch will depart on Monday before the marathoners leave on August 24th.

Cheptegei, the defending champion in the 10,000m category, aims to triumph in both the 10,000m and 5000m races after narrowly missing out due to injury during the previous edition. “If all goes well and at the back of my mind, I would love to defend this race. (10,000m). As the reigning champion, my focus is to defend the title.” Cheptegei said.

Uganda’s team seeks to surpass its previous 16th-place finish at the 2022 World Athletics Championships held in Eugene, Oregon (USA), where the nation secured three medals. Cheptegei secured gold in the 10,000m, while Jacob Kiplimo and Oscar Chelimo clinched bronze in the 10,000m and 5000m events respectively.

Coach Benjamin Njia who has been presiding over the routine training sessions in Kapchorwa told journalists that the athletes have had adequate preparations.

It should however be recalled that the Ugandan team suffered a huge blow a few days back when long-distance star Jacob Kiplimo was ruled out due to his hamstring injury. Kiplimo had entered both 5,000m and 10,000m together with his long-term colleague Joshua Cheptegei.

Kiplimo won bronze in the previous edition of the world championships in Oregon USA.   Kiplimo in particular carried a lot of Uganda’s medal hopes in Budapest having won two gold medals (5000m and 10,000m) at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where Cheptegei never participated after picking an injury.

His withdrawal put the onus on Joshua Cheptegei, who must now muster his resolve alongside the remaining few to forge a formidable team. In the 10,000m event, Cheptegei will join forces with Joel Ayeko and Rogers Kibet.

Meanwhile, in the 5000m event, Cheptegei will be accompanied by Kiplimo’s sibling, Oscar Chelimo. Oscar Chelimo clinched bronze in the 5000m race during the 2022 world championship.

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