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HISTORY OF ATHLETICS IN UGANDA:

1. Introduction:

Uganda Athletics Federation is the national governing body of the sports of athletics under the rules and regulations of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). It is a voluntary, non profiting making body with the mandate of developing and promoting athletics in Uganda in line with the IAAF statutes.

 

2. Foundation:

The idea of starting an annual athletics championship in Uganda was first discussed in an informal meeting at the home of Major Lawrence at Nakasero. On 4 April 1925, a group of enthusiastic sports personalities convened a meeting at the then Imperial Hotel in Kampala to endorse the possibility of organsing an annual athletics championships. This inaugural meeting later gave birth to the Uganda Native (African) Athletic Association aimed at developing and promoting local athletics (for Ugandans). The founder members of the association included former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. S. W. Kulubya who was also the 1st African Mayor of Kampala City and Chairman of National Council of Sports. The Executive of the Ugandan Native Athletic Association included Honorary Secretary Sir. Sydaly Abrahams. The UNAA which started in colonial period (1925) later evolved into Uganda Amateur Athletic Association (UAAA) at Independence (1962) and transformed into Uganda Amateur Athletics Federation in 1993 then Uganda Athletics Federation in 2004 when internally, athletics embraced the component of professionalism. In 1954, Uganda Native Athletics Association affiliated to the then International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF). These names later changed into and are known as Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). By affiliating to IAAF, it is automatically affiliated to Africa Athletics Confederation (CAA) and Eastern Africa Athletics Region (EAAR). Locally, the athletics is an affiliate of the Uganda Olympic Committee and registered with National Council of Sports (NCS). The membership of Athletics moved from individuals as at the initiation in 1925 to clubs and district associations when it became a federation in 1993.

3.Organisation of events:

The first inaugural athletics competition was organised on 3 August 1925, four months after the meeting at Imperial Hotel and was attended by nine clubs. That same year, the Uganda Native Athletics Association was registered formally. Since its formation athletics was mainly track and field affair with more emphasis on sprints and jumps. Road races, cross country and mountain running were introduced later into the programme of athletics. The 1st cross country on recommended surface was organised in 1996 and the 2nd st national Mountain running was organised in 2008. In 1995, under the leadership of Elijah Mushemeza, focus was shifted to middle and long distance with the 1st event organised in Kapchorwa. This event opened gates of the current stream of middle and long distance. Athletics in Uganda is now as defined by the IAAF track and field (sprints, running, jumps and throws), road, cross country and mountain running. These events are organised at club, association, regional/zones and national levels. Athletics is practiced at school, community/club levels in every district. Athletics teams are national in nature; athletes coming from every region of the country.

4. Participation and performance in international competitions:

4.1 Regional events

In 1934 Ugandan athletes participated in the first international event between Uganda and Kenya. In 1953, Uganda attended the 1st Eastern and Central Africa Games in Wanshya, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). This event later became Eastern and Central Africa championships and the last edition was hosted by Uganda at Jinja in 1991. This event changed to Eastern Africa Athletics championships in which Ugandan athletes have competed in every edition and Uganda hosted several competitions.

4.2 Commonwealth Games

In 1954, Uganda made its debut in international competition at the Empire Games in Vancouver, Canada. There were only 3 athletes at the Empire games which included Ben Ndugga 100 yard sprints, Patrick Etolu in high Jump who won the 1st international medal, Silver.In 1958, Uganda athletics made its 1st appearance in the 6th Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The best performance was of Patrick Etolu becoming 4th while the 4 x 110 yards relay team was 6th in finals. Etolu went ahead to compete at the AAAA competition in UK and won the high jump event with height of 6ft 8 inch. Uganda athletes have competed in every Commonwealth Games and won 4 Gold Medals; Dorcus Inzikuru (3000m SC) and Boniface Kiprop (10000m) Melbourne 2006 and 2 Gold medals by Moses Kipsiro (5000m and 10000m) New Delhi 2010.

4.3 Olympic Games

Uganda made its first appearance at the Olympic Games in 1956 at Melbourne Olympics, Australia and followed by Rome in 1960 with a team of four athlete. The highest performance was recorded by the high hurdler John Okello who reached semi finals and Erusmus Amukun in 2nd round. Athletics teams continued to participate at Olympic games in Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, Munich 1972, boycotted Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. The 1st Olympic medal was won by John Akii Bua in Munich 1972. Davis Kamoga won the 2nd medal Bronze in Atlanta 1996 and 3rd medal Gold by Stephen Kiprotich at London 2012. The next good performance n the games was Boniface Kiprop in 10000m at Athens 2004.

4.4 All Africa Games

Athletics made its first appearance in All Africa Games in 1965 and has achieved many medals; Gold, Silver and Bronze. The highest number of medals was achieved in the 1987 games in Algeria where athletics team won 7 medals.

4.5 World Athletics series (championships in athletics)

Athletics has participated in IAAF World championships in Athletics since 1985 and won 2 Gold medals by Dorcus Inzikuru Helsinki 2005 and Stephen Kiprotich Moscow 2013; a Silver by Davis Kamoga Athens 1997 and Bronze by Moses Kipsiro Osaka 2007. It has participated in all age category events (youth and junior) from initiation to date. Athletics made its first appearance in World cross country in 1996 Cape Town South Africa and World half marathon in 1997 Kosice. It entered into World Mountain Running championships in 2007 to date. In all these, it has won medals gold, Silver Bronze and good team positions. Since 2004, athletics has presented teams to every regional, Africa,World events with good performances and increased number of athletes.The performance of athletics is growing every year.

5. Prominent people in athletics

Athletics has not only produced athletes in the last 87 years but prominent leaders notably Prof. Y. K. Lule, E. K. Mulira, Dr. Samson Kisekka, Serwano Kulubya, Basil Bataringaya, C. B Kaiiti, Reverend Polycarp Kakooza, Aggrey Awori among others who were outstanding national athletes. The Federation is managed by volunteers from many education background and sorts of work/job. Currently, the Federation is voluntarily managed by professors, lecturers and tutors from Kyambogo and Makerere Universities, public servants from Ministry of Education (teachers), Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs (Uganda Police & Prison Service), UPDF and individual/private businessmen and women who were time athletes.