Uganda: Peruth Chemutai
Event: Women’s 3000m Steeplechase final
Date: Wednesday, August 4
Time: 2pm (Ug time)
TV: Sanyuka (StarTimes)
Peruth Chemutai will be hoping to become the first Ugandan Woman to win an Olympics medal when she takes on track this Wednesday for the Women’s 3000m steeplechase final.
Since inception, Uganda has collected nine medals at the Olympics games, but all those have been won by Men!
The Tokyo games have provided a good platform for Ugandan Women, and in fact, before Stellah Chesang pulled out, Uganda had qualified more Women than men at the games.
Nonetheless, with 12 women and as many men – it is the biggest number of women at the Olympics since Uganda’s first appearance in 1956 ( Melbourne, Australia).
There has been some good milestones to celebrate – First, Catherine Nanziri became the first female boxer to represent Uganda at the games.
Swimmer Kirabo Namutebi broke a National record in the 50m freestyle while Shida Leni became the first female Sprinter in recent memory.
A podium finish for Chemutai on Wednesday will be the biggest and sweetest of all.
Uganda has been blessed with strong Women athletes but none has been successful at the Olympics.
The renown Dorcus Inzikuru, Sarah Nambawa, Judith Ayaa, Mary Musani, Catherine Webombesa and Edith Nakiyingi among others have all bowed out without an Olympic medal to their long list of accolades.
Halima Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo failed to reach the 800m in Tokyo but the later still has a go at the 1500m.
Can Chemutai Defy Odds?
Chemutai is a Ugandan record-holder at the Women’s Steeplechase and showed her capability when she eased through to the final.
Chemutai finished second in heat one to set her seasonal best time of 9:12.72 on Sunday.
The comfort with which she cleared the obastacles was a thing to admire but her endurance in a classy field will be key if she is to defy odds and bring an elusive medal home.
She was only beaten by Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi (9:10.8). In addition, its only Yavi who has the better qualification time ahead of Chemutai’s from all the 16 women in Wednesday’s final.
Much as many will read less from those qualification times as most athletes preserve more energy for the last, it will give Chemutai some confidence and morale.
Who Stands In Chemutai’s Way?
The competition is between the Kenyan duo of Beatrice Chepkoech and Hyvin Kiyeng. Its no surprise, Kenya owns the steeplechase.
Chepkoech holds the World record at the distance which she set in 2018 (8:44.32) but she has been beaten by Kiyeng thrice in recent memory including at the Monaco Diamond League this year.
US Champion Emma Coburn is another one to watch out after she won bronze in Rio 2016. Then, Kiyeng won silver while Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet (Kenyan born) banged gold.
African Games gold medal winner Mekides Abebe and Germany’s Gesa Krause are also top favourites.
The Men’s 3000m Steeplechase final gave us shocker when Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali took gold, becoming the first non Kenyan athlete to win the title in Olympics since Poland’s Bronisław Malinowski won gold in 1980 Moscow games.
Chemutai will not only be battling against history nor a world class field but she will be up against punishing temperatures on Wednesday under the hot Tokyo sun.