Araptany, Ugandas own at Olympics 800m

All eyes will be on Jacob Araptany as he attempts to win Uganda’s first medal from the ongoing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro today.

Uganda’s realistic medal dreams can only start today with Jacob Araptany contesting in the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase final. Winnie Nanyondo, another seasoned competitor, is another big hope for the country as she begins her campaign in the women’s 800-metre heat races.

The 22-year-old aroused Team Uganda’s elusive medal hopes on Monday after qualifying for the final. He finished second in his heat after clocking eight minutes 21.53 seconds.

He showed signs of endurance over the seven-and-a-half laps as he led for most of time during the race. And he will need the same in pursuit of any kind of medal in the race, which Kenyan athletes have won for the last eight consecutive times, including two clean 1-2-3 sweeps in 1992 and 2004.

Nonetheless, Araptany will start among the underdogs for a podium finish, with Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto, as huge favourites. Kemboi struck gold in 2004 and 2012 in Athens and London respectively while Kipruto triumphed in 2008 in Beijing, China.

In the women’s 800-metre race, Nanyondo and Halimah Nakaayi start their medal chase in the heats today. Nanyondo picked Uganda’s first ever medal (bronze) in the two-lap race during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya is a red-hot favourite ahead of Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s pair of Eunice Sum and Margaret Wambui in this race. The other Ugandans in action today include middle distance runners Jacob Kiplimo, Phillip Kipyeko and Joshua Cheptegei, who compete in the 5,000-metre race heats.

The spotlight will be on 15-year-old Kiplimo, who graduated to senior athletics international stage last year during the World Junior Championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland where he won a bronze medal.

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