Tokyo Olympics 5000m gold medallist Joshua Cheptegei dream is to turn his home country (Uganda) into an athletics powerhouse.
Considering that he added the 5,000m and 10,000m world records, that dream should not be far from realization.
The 25 years-old made the remarks at the National Council of Sports (NCS) when it fulfilled its pledge of rewarding all athletes who excelled at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics on Tuesday (12).
“My dream is to make this country a running nation. I want the young people to be motivated so that they can take on sport and showcase their talents to the world,” said Cheptegei.
Cheptegei also called for a change in perception with sport often regarded as a leisure activity. “Sport is not just leisure game. It is business and young people can learn that you can earn from sport. I want to set a path that other young children can follow,” Cheptegei concluded.
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.
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.
Commonwealth Half Marathon bronze medallist, Doreen Chesang says she will be ready for a full marathon debut in November.
Chesang, who started as a middle distance runner, participating in the 1500 metres, soon graduated to 3000 metres before quickly switching to 5000 metres since 2008.
Finishing in third place at the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff on Sunday, behind country mate, Juliet Chekwel, who won gold in a time of 1:09:45, Chesang’s 1:11:10 was a personal best.
Uganda won the team gold for both ladies and men while Fred Musobo and Timothy Toroitch were second and third respectively behind Australian Jack Rayner, who won the men’s race to cap what Uganda Athletics Federation president Domenic Otucet said was the best race in half marathon history for the country.
As the triumphant team was welcomed yesterday at a luncheon by the National Council of Sports (NCS) in Lugogo, Chesang told Daily Monitor that she believes venturing into full marathon is an achievable target.
“Track needs a lot of speed and I have attained this. What I need to work on now is endurance,” she says.
Athletics coach, Nalis Bigingo supported her ambitions.
“Although it’s (full marathon) twice as long as a half marathon, the strategy is not too different—you’ll want to give yourself enough time to prepare and choose an appropriate training plan. She has all it takes,” Bigingo says. The mother of two says that marathon training takes more time but she is sure her husband will allow her to achieve her dreams.
Chesang will also switch from Arua to Prisons Athletics club starting next season. She hopes that a monthly salary will enable her train effectively.
She wants to finish strong at the upcoming MTN Kampala Marathon on November 18 which will be her first time running the full marathon, a distance of 42.195 kilometres.
Chesang is also expected to join the monthly presidential rewards system to excelling athletes. Her name will be submitted for consideration in the next quarter alongside; Sarah Chelangat, Esther Chekwemoi, Betty Chebet, Dan Chebet and Matthew Chepkuru.
Athletics contributes most beneficiaries to the rewards scheme with football in second place. Netball is expected to be considered in the next quarter.
Joshua Cheptegei’s double gold from the Commonwealth Games in April earned the country pride but the success came at a huge cost.
Having won the 5000m and 10000m which fetched him Shs50m from National Council of Sports, Cheptegei is now set to miss the rest of the track season after picking up an injury in the right knee.
“It is painful,” Cheptegei told Daily Monitor early this week. “I did some light work but now it is very serious,” he explained.
The 21-year-old missed the IAAF Eugene Diamond League in Oregon, USA at the weekend where teenager Jacob Kiplimo came 11th in the men’s 2-mile race at the Hayward Field.
It is the second Diamond League event Cheptegei has missed this season after opting out of Doha on May 4.
This paper understands that Cheptegei would probably not have been down had nhe ot run the 10000m in Australia. “Yes,” he concurred.
‘Persuaded by UAF’
But after he won the 5000m at the Carrara Stadium, he was supposed to leave Australia after for his own personal training but he was persuaded by Uganda Athletics Federation to complete the long-distance double.
“When I did the 5000m, it (knee) was okay for me. But when I did the 10000m, it got worse.”
The 2017 World 10000m silver medallist is more bothered sitting out ahead of the 2019 Doha World Championships.
“Now I cannot stand or sit for long. I am trying to heal and it’s not easy. I hope I can return later in the season for some road races.” Cheptegei added.
While Cheptegei is out, counterpart Albert Chemutai is back on track tonight for the 3000m steeplechase at the Rome Diamond League.
Sixth with a personal best of 8:18.80 in Doha, Chemutai is out for consistency and will aim to run the water-jump race a little quicker at the Stadio Olimpico. He is in a field of 20 with seven Kenyans, Doha winner Ethiopian Beyo Chala and Olympic bronze medallist Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi Benabbad.
2014 World University X-Country Gold
2014 World Junior 10000m Gold
2015 Africa 10000m Gold
2017 World 10000m Silver
2018 Commonwealth 5000m Gold
2018 Commonwealth 10000m Gold