KAMPALA. Athletics has earned itself the title of the ‘golden sport of Uganda’.
At every major event, Uganda have been medal hopefuls.
Just this year, Joshua Cheptegei’s double gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will eternally be remembered. Of the six medals Uganda collected, five were from athletics. Stella Chesang (gold) and Mercyline Chelangat (bronze) took two podium places in 10,000 metres race yet marathoner Solomon Mutai won silver.
Juma Miiro (bronze), the other medallist, is understandably from boxing, another sport that digs medals at the world stage.
But therein lies the problem – lack of trained coaches.
Most of the elite athletes either camp in Kenya or their training programmes are drawn by specialist coaches based in Europe or America.
For those that have not yet experienced that privilege, they have to deal with coaches, some of whom attended a Level 1 course, four years ago, or learn from peers.
According to the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF), not more than 90 coaches have undergone formal training in the country since the early 90s.
Among them, only five: Michael Torito, Michael Byaruhanga Kadodoba, Moses Twesigomwe, Francis Demari and Faustino Kiwa hold the top badges as Level 5 coaches. However, the list grows thinner, as only Kiwa (Police) and Demari (Prisons) actively train athletes.
Torito opted to concentrate on a teaching career in Kapchorwa yet Kadodoba, the Principal of Kichwamba Technical College, is an instructor so is Twesigomwe.
UAF president Domenic Otucet is, however, optimistic that the 12-day Level 1 coaching course that is being conducted at Namboole by Kenyan Samuel Litaba, will open more opportunities. “You have been producing results even without training. But now that you have trained, you are expected to produce better results,” Otucet said.
The race to get to the top is limited by a certain level of academic achievement with proficiency in English.
The training, though, does not tackle problem areas of sprints and field events.
“There is no specialisation at this level. After sieving, the best can progress to Level 2,” he added.