By Javier Silas Omagor
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Club long distance athletes, take a bow!
Participating at the inaugural Discovery Uganda Championships 2023, Boma Ground Kapchorwa, on Friday, January 20, the wildlife rangers dominated the event from start to finish.
World champion and record holder Jacob Kiplimo’s-powered championships progressed into a tranquil and entertaining debut with the junior categories kicking-off first and fast.
The country’s established athletics clubs came laden with their richly talented cohorts, but it was UWA’s Scarlet Patrick Chebet who bossed the junior women category.
Chebet confidently cruised up to cross the finish line with the clock of 27 minutes, 49 seconds, and 17 microseconds (27:49.17).
The Netherland-based Global Sports Communication’s Fenesha Chekwemoi and Joshua Cheptegei Community Development- JOCDEF Academy prospect Martha Chemutai, respectively, tried to challenge Chebet, but the latter was too good for the pair.
After several failed attempts, Chekwemoi (28:04:12) and Chemutai (28:25:27) coiled their tails to settle for silver and bronze respectively.
With the event up and running, another UWA athlete, Dismas Yeko, the world university cross country reigning champion, turned on his engine and left competitors for dust in the senior men category.
Upon the sight of the finish line, the fresh Ndejje University graduate wheeled-up and went all the way to glory after stopping the clock at 28:37:43.
“I consider that a great and sweet win to start this new year. I want to compete and run more in 2023,” Yeko said after winning gold over the 8km distance.
UPDF’s Leornard Chemutai needed a clock of 28:47:26 to finish behind the speedy Yeko to earn silver while Nelson Wakana of Prisons came home at 28:51:02, to clinch a bronze medal.
Then it was time for the senior women to battle it out for victory with the star-studded start-list on the track.
When the gun was triggered, many demonstrated intent, but in the end, yet another mouth-watering performance by a UWA athlete, this time round, Dorine Chesang.
With the crowd mounting an irresistible acknowledging cheer, the mother of two ran as if her entire life depended on it.
Chesang came home with a time of 32:52:28 to win UWA’s third gold medal in as many categories, simply, an unmatched milestone.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze winner at Gold Coast Mercyline Chelangat who turns out for Police club was the best of the rest as geared-up to win silver with a clock of 32:56:92.
In the same category, UPDF’s prudently gifted Rebecca Cheptegei camethird with the clock of 33:17:91 to win a bronze.
Given such a clouded dominance, only Prison’s Dan Kibet 22:50:16, was able to deny UWA athletes victory enroute to winning gold in the junior men category.
KCCA’s Denis Kiplangat secured silver after a clock of 23:02:84 while Elijah Cheptoek of Arua Athletics Club scooped a bronze medal in what was a highly competitive event.
Though they did not manage podium finishes, runners from visiting countries also managed quality performances.
It should be noted that winners of each category took home a monetary prize of sh3.8m while all those who finished among the top ten were awarded as well.
The event was attended by tens of hundreds among them the double world record holder and back-to-back champion, Joshua Cheptegei, Olympics gold medallist Peruth Chemutai, World Championships bronze winner Oscar Chelimo and Commonwealth Games 2022 marathon gold winner, Victor Kiplangat.
Footwear giant Nike and Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) and Rosa Associati International were among the sponsors of Discovery Uganda Championship.