KAMPALA. Wheelchair racer Richard Ocira is audaciously hoping that his international debut turns out a success when he hits the road in the Berlin Marathon, Sunday.
Ocira is the first ever Ugandan wheelchair racer to grace a world marathon, but the challenge of competing against multiple champion David Weir, Japanese Yuki Kawauchi, among others, does not bother him.
“I’m not going to just compete,” Ocira said yesterday on the way to Entebbe Airport. “I want to win.”
Ocira’s familiar race has been the 10km MTN Marathon, but his coach Paul Acaye does not rule out his chances. Despite all the struggle: finding logistical support, and training, Acaye believes Ocira has greatly improved.
“In the MTN Marathon he has often dropped out after crashing with opponents but this time he hasn’t even once, though we have trained on sloppy terrain.” That, Acaye said, is a sign of the stability required in Berlin. Acaye is realistic, though: “any positive like winning sponsorship, and the experience itself, him being the first Ugandan there is a win,” he said.
In April, Britain’s Weir won the London Marathon in a classic 1:31.15 finish while Kawauchi became the first Japanese man to win the Boston Marathon since 1987 (in an unofficial time of 2:15.58).
Those and many more seasoned marathoners and better facilitated debutants are Ocira’s opponents. Yet Ocira, even hours to his flight still needed money to add to the organisers’ $800 grant, struggling to fix the flat tyre of his old-fashioned bike, and so much more. But he and his coach a daring to hope.