Saturday, August 13, 2016

Er, Wrong Coach To Rio XXXI?

I have never been to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The closest I’ve been to Rio, has been over the past nine days and watching the XXXI edition of the Summer Olympics, where the world’s finest athletes are toiling for country and flag and hoping to stand on the podium with gold, silver or bronze bling draped round their necks.

Our Uganda I am proud to say, also dispatched the finest athletes it could find (Below) to Rio though, like many out there, I don’t know who our athletes are or their pedigree or if they have medals from previous games – say Commonwealth Games or The All Africa Games.

I also don’t know how Uganda’s Olympic Committee selected Athlete, but I’m told it’s something to do with qualifying - which I think is a good thing? If Usain Bolt, who is arguably the finest sprinter there is today and who has won just about every medal there is to win, had to qualify to be part of the Jamaican team, then why shouldn’t the same rules apply to our own?

In all sports disciplines, while Athlete takes the kudos, in the backroom there is the support staff who in one way or another, will contribute to Athletes success. There is Coach, Physiotherapist, Trainer, Nutritionist, Manager and so on. But due to financial constraints, we couldn’t afford to dispatch the entire backroom team to Rio, but to send the most qualified of the lot and if sanity prevails, it would have had to be Coach – not so?                

But sanity didn’t quite prevail and we are Ugandans and not the rest of the world. We like to be different. We like to be unconventional. We like to break rules. We like to say ‘f**k them’ and more importantly, we like to shock.

And we have. We did send Coach to Rio, but we decided to send the wrong one. Does that not call for a repeat to save you from going back to the start of the sentence and reading it all over again just to make sure you read it right? It does. What we have decided to do, is to send the wrong coach to Rio.

Faustino Kiwa, (Below) whose specialty is in coaching Sprinter, travelled to Rio as coach to Long and Middle Distant Runner. And this is where I unleash the shocker. We don’t have Sprinter on the team and Kiwa did not bond with Athlete - better still, I hear he did not set foot in Namboole or Kapchorwa where Athlete was training. So we have Sprints Coach in Rio coaching Middle and Long Distance runner? Hmm, it’s like State House having a dinner for Kabaka Mutebi and bringing over Lugbara Chef from Madi to prepare beef luwombo while ignoring Muganda Local Chef from Budo who, has years of experience in cooking beef luwombo’s for Buganda’s royalty.

But there’s another shocker. Benjamin Longiross (Below), a UPDF soldier and retired long distance runner who competed in the 1988 Olympics marathon, had spent months coaching and bonding with Athlete in misty hills of Kapchorwa. Longiross should have been in Rio, but Uganda Athletics Federation President, a chap called Dominic Otucet, who by the way is in Rio as the athletics team manager, argued that Longiross ‘didn’t make noise’ about being abandoned in Kapchorwa and probably without transport back to Kampala, so it was okay to send Kiwa in his place. Another hmm.

What Otucet (Below, white T-shirt) also chose to ignore when deciding which officials should go to Rio is that apart from my having a valid passport, I have also done ten marathons – two London Marathons, two Boston Marathons and four MTN Kampala Marathons - which means, I do have the necessary experience and therefore I should have been with the team in Rio.

But I am not in Rio. Rather, I am having pork and beer with Nodin, Doc (Below), Julio, Lukwago and Willo at Chogm because Otucet decided to be a hater.

A hater and all because I chose 'run' the London and Boston Marathons on Supersport while the MTN Kampala Marathons were 'run' from the exclusivity of the MTN hospitality tent along with Gasper and OPP (Below) and over a full and sumptuous English breakfast prepared by Faze II Chef while popping very cold TMLs as we watched Athlete race by - instead of actually running. 

Meanwhile, Longiross is probably still moping about on the hills of Kapchorwa and waiting for his Mobile Money transport back to Kampala to reflect on his phone and while he has decided to stay silent about his omission from the squad, I am not. I am so not.

First thing come Monday morning, I am swaggering down to complain to Mrs. Museveni – she is the minister of sports not so and who knows, I might just make it in time for the closing ceremony.  

Pictures: The Observer, AFP, Daily Monitor, New Vision

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