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Joshua Cheptegei receives Shs80m for Olympic heroics from NCS

The National Council of Sports (NCS) met its pledge of rewarding all athletes who excelled at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics on Tuesday.

For their gold medals in the 5000m and 3000m steeplechase, Joshua Cheptegei and Peruth Chemutai got Shs50m each, respectively.

Uganda Olympic gold and silver medalist Joshua Cheptegei (center) receives sh80m dummy cheques from the Minister of State for Sport Denis Obua (left) and the Chef De Mission Beatrice Ayikoru (right) for his perfomance at the Tokyo Olympics, at NCS, October 12, 2021. Photos by Michael Nsubuga

Cheptegei picked another Shs30m for the 10000m silver while Jacob Kiplimo received Shs20m for bronze in the same race.

Paralympian David Emong’s bronze in the 1500m T46 race got him Shs20m.

Uganda had a team of 25 at the Olympics and another four for the Paralympics. Each of these received another Shs1m in addition to their allowances which were paid in July.

“We made history but now hope that we break that history because we are now a powerhouse in sports,” sports minister Hamson Obua said.

“Sport is no longer a liability to the country. It is now a big asset. Life is journey. You won’t be an athlete forever.

“This is your time, your moment and you are lucky that we can also reward you. Some were not as lucky.

“From the little proceeds you are getting, save wisely. Save for the future,” Obua advised.

NCS General Secretary Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel was pleased to meet this commitment.

“We prioritized rewarding athletes as one of the ways of promoting sports,” NCS General Secretary Dr Benard Patrick Ogwel told a media briefing at the Lugogo Sports Complex.

Upon their return from Japan, President Museveni hosted the team to a state luncheon where he gave Chemutai, Cheptegei and Kiplimo cars. He also promised to build their parents houses.

Reward and recognition scheme

In 2018, the agency paid out Shs100m for medals won at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia but there’s no reward and recognition policy in place yet.

For his 5,000 and 10,000m double, Cheptegei pocketed Shs50m.  Stella Chesang received Shs20m for winning the 10,000m women’s race.

Solomon Mutai, who won silver in the marathon, earned Shs15m while Mercyline Chelangat and Juma Miiro got Shs7.5m each for bronze in the 10,000m and boxing respectively.

NCS also gave Emong Shs30m for his Gold at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London plus Shs20m for Silver at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not pay prize money to medalists, many countries offer monetary rewards to their athletes for the number of medals they win at the Olympics.

Shs2.7b for Gold

At the Tokyo 2020 Games, Singapore is paying the most for medals. Any Gold is worth $737,000 (Shs2.7b), $369,000 (Shs1.3b) for Silver and bronze comes with $184,000 (Shs680m) in prize money.

The prize money is taxable and awardees are required to return a portion of it to their national sports associations for future training and development.

Singapore’s prize money is 20 times more than USA.

More than 600 US athletes competed at Tokyo 2020.

The US Olympic and Paralympic committee rewards athletes $37,500 (Shs138m) for every gold medal won, $22,500 (Shs83m) for silver and $15,000 (Shs55m) for bronze.

Most of the prize money is not taxable unless athletes report gross income that exceeds $1 million (Shs3.7b).

US athletes also receive other forms of support including health insurance, access to top-tier medical facilities and college tuition assistance for student athletes.

The sporting economy in the US allows athletes to better monetise their talents as most of it is driven by the private sector.

In countries such as Singapore, India and Uganda, many of the national sporting initiatives are driven by governments that sometimes use higher monetary rewards to encourage a growing sporting culture.

World Cross Country eases Cheptegei’s 2022 schedule

There is no doubt that Ugandan long-distance runner Joshua Cheptegei is an Olympic champion after claiming the 5000m gold at the Tokyo Games in Japan.

A week  earlier, he had taken silver in the 10000m final. Also, Cheptegei is the undisputed king of long-distance running having grabbed nearly every piece of silverware on offer in the last four years.

Cheptegei currently holds the 5km, 5000m and 10000m world records. He has the 5000m Olympic title, the 10000m world title, the Commonwealth double and the World Cross-country title. The man, who is building a training facility back home in Kapchorwa, would have started training for next season early in order to attempt defend his global cross-country title but now, his schedule will ease up a bit.

This is after World Athletics this week postponed the event by a year until 2023. The event was set to take place in Bathurst, Australia on February 19, 2022 but the prevailing Covid-19 situation means the event will wait for an extra year. The postponement is due to the biosecurity measures and travel restrictions currently in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Australia, according to a World Athletics statement.

Similarly, Australian borders are closed to international visitors, it further read. It means that more than 500 athletes from 60 countries will compete at the tough Mount Panorama course in Bathurst on February 18, 2023. For Cheptegei who won the senior men’s 10km title at the previous cross-country edition in Aarhus, Denmark in 2019, it means now he will solely prioritize defending his world title over the 25 laps when the Eugene World Athletics Championships come July 15-24 in USA. “Defending the 10000m title is my priority next year,” Cheptegei told Daily Monitor recently.

After Eugene, the next Worlds come held in Hungarian capital Budapest in 2023. Cheptegei may likely not compete in Birmingham to defend his double at the Commonwealth Games which come days after Eugene from July 28 – August 8. The championships are close because of postponements arising from the pandemic.

However, Cheptegei may opt to compete in the World Half-Marathon Championships set to take place in Yangzhou, China on March 27, 2022.

PRISCA CHESANG: The lady that won Uganda’s only medal in Nairobi

Prisca Chesang ensured Team Uganda did not leave the Kenyan capital empty-handed after she fought to secure 5000m bronze on the final day of the 18th World Athletics U20 Championships last week.

Lining-up in a 10-lady field with counterpart Scarlett Chebet, Chesang lived up to the medal-favourite tag billing and duly delivered a third-place finish in a time of 16 minutes and 21.78 seconds.

“I’m so happy,” said the 18-year-old, country’s revelation of the sport this year. This was Uganda’s 14th medal in championship history, also implying the country has won something at each of the last four editions stretching back to Oregon 2014.

Bidding to cover up for the 3000m medal miss after a painful fourth place last week, Chesang followed Ethiopian pairing of eventual winner Mizan Alem and Melknat Wudu with three laps left.

“In the 3000m, they left me with 600m to go but here, I had to fight,” the Uganda Wildlife Authority club runner said.

“Today, I still felt a bit of fatigue from the Tokyo Olympics and I had just one week to train for Nairobi.
“But I am happy to win this medal. I want to focus on next year; may be do cross-country, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.”

Chesanga is the fourth female runner to win for Uganda a medal at the junior championship after Peruth Chemutai (2018), Annet Negesa (2010) and Dorcus Inzikuru (2000).
Alem won gold in a time of 16:05.61 while Wudu took silver in 16:13.16. Chebet was 10th in 17:36.26.

Chesang’s medal however needed an extra hour to be confirmed after the race. She had been disqualified alongside Wudu, allegedly for having stepped out of the line during action.

Team Uganda appealed and together with the Ethiopian officials, the decision was rescinded.