By Thomas Odongo
Ugandan middle-distance runner Halimah Nakaayi claimed the women’s 800 meters gold title at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar on Monday.
Nakaayi, 24 came atop the heat with a winning time of one minute and 58 seconds to also take the $60,000 (shs218m) winner’s prize. “It’s the first time that someone from central Uganda makes it to the final. So getting a medal means a lot to Uganda. It’s a great achievement for Uganda and even for me,” she told reporters.
The win was Uganda’s first ever in the women’s 800 meters at the World Athletics Championships. Nakaayi also becomes the second Ugandan woman after Dorcus Inzikuru (steeplechase in the 2005 edition in Helsinki.) to emerge champion at the event. It was also Uganda’s first medal at the Doha meet.
Jamaican Natoya Goule finished second while hot-favorite then, Diamond League champion Wilson Ajee of the United States finished third. The other Ugandan in the final, Winnie Nanyondo finished fourth earning $15,000 (Shs54.7m).
South Africa’s Caster Semenya, the title holder and three-time champion, did not take part due to global athletics’ governing body the IAAF’s recently-introduced testosterone regulations. Semenya lost her appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the rules meaning the middle distance female athlete with a high natural level of testosterone must take medication to reduce it.
President Congratulates Nakaayi
In a tweet on Monday evening President Yoweri Museveni congratulated Nakaayi for the victory, saying Uganda is proud of her.
"Congratulations to Halima Nakaayi who has just won the 800m women's final at the #IAAFDoha2019. Congratulations to Winnie Nanyondo for putting up a great show in the same race. Your country is proud of you!" he said