KAMPALA, April 9, 2019 – Joshua Cheptegei capped a memorable week that wrapped up with the long-distance runner being crowned as the 2018 Sports Personality of the Year by the Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) on Friday.
AIPS affiliate USPA, set to celebrate 50 years in 2020, celebrates the best athletes annually and it is Cheptegei who beat three other nominees to the top honour at the annual Awards gala at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
“I don’t want to speak when the chief guest is standing here,” a delighted Cheptegei told the audience moments after receiving his diadem from chief guest Minister of Information Technology and Communications Hon. Frank Tumwebaze.
His acceptance speech was filled with emotion after beating Uganda netball assistant captain Lillian Ajio, Uganda Cranes’ captain Denis Onyango and Rugby Cranes’ stalwart Phillip Wokorach.
“I don’t know, I am really sweating,” Cheptegei said. “I want to thank Uspa journalists for voting me and other partners who are sponsors of this event. I want to thank the Ministry of Education and Sports, Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) which is the number federation in the country because we show the results.”
It was wrap to stellar seven days for Cheptegei. On March 30, the runner had been the talk of the globe after he exorcised demons of two years ago to win the IAAF World Cross-country Championship in Aarhus, Denmark.
And the 22-year-old now claimed the USPA top prize having won the 5000m and 10000m double at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia last year. Cheptegei also broke the 15km world record last November.
The Aarhus achievement is regarded as a 2019 feat and it did not count. However, he had already garnered enough to 2016 winner Onyango who was named in the Caf Africa Best XI and also led the Uganda Cranes to back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
On the other hand, Wokorach missed out on the big award for the third time in a row despite leading his club Kabras Sugar to the Kenya Cup (15s league) title and the Enterprise Cup finals.
With his franchise team Samurai, Wokorach was named MVP and also was top scorer at the Amsterdam 7s in Netherlands. He was also second top scorer at the Algarve 7s in Portugal.
For the Rugby Cranes, he scored most points for Uganda in the Africa Gold Cup over the 15s format and no player from Africa scored more tries than him at 7s World Cup in San Francisco, USA.
Ajio led the national side She Cranes to sixth place at the Commonwealth Games before helping the same side with the Africa crown and qualify for the Netball World Cup.
Cheptegei is focused on winning the long-distance double at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar come September as well as the Tokyo Olympics next year.
“Every Kenyan here, we are coming for you,” he spoke with verve. “In athletics, we say once you cross the finish line, it is the beginning of a new race,” he added.
Having served tennis for 51 years, John Oduke was crowned with the Legendary Award while football body Fufa beat Uganda Woodball Federation and Uganda Athletics Federation to the Best Run Federation Award.
The new Fans Choice Award was won by Wokorach having collected most votes via www.uspa.press and the She Cranes, for their sixth place on the Gold Coast and winning the Africa Netball Cup, they deservedly took the Team of the Year honour ahead of the Uganda Cranes and Pirates Rugby Cranes.
2018 NILE SPECIAL USPA AWARDS
Sports Personality of the Year: Joshua Cheptegei (athletics)
Most Organized Event: Badminton Classification Competition for people with disability
Best Run Federation: Fufa
Team of the year: She Cranes
Legendary Award: John Oduke
CHEPTEGEI AT A GLANCE
Date of birth: September 12, 1996
Major Races: 5000m, 10000m
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden
Kit Sponsor: Nike
Personal Bests: 5000m (12:59.83), 10000m (26:49.94)
2014 World University X-Country Gold
2014 World Junior 10000m Gold
2015 Africa 10000m Gold
2017 World 10000m Silver
2018 Commonwealth 5000m Gold
2018 Commonwealth 10000m Gold
2019 World Cross-country Gold
ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Athletics: Joshua Cheptegei, Stella Chesang
Boxing: Juma Miiro
Football: Denis Onyango, Ruth Aturo
Rally: Suzan Muwonge, Edmond Kyeyune
Golf: Ronald Otile, Eva Magala
Cricket: Riazat Ali Shah, Immaculate Nakisuuyi
Pool: Mansoor Bwanika, Ritah Nimusiima
Lawn Tennis: Boris Aguma
Body building: Isaac Mubikirwa
Badminton: Brian Kasirye, Husnah Kobugabe
Woodball: Watson Mugume, Denise Nanjeru
Rugby: Philip Wokorach, Emily Lekuru
Basketball: Male: Jimmy Enabu, Jamila Nansikombi
Chess: Arthur Ssegwanyi, Penina Nakabo
Volleyball: Smith Okumu, Habiba Namala
Netball: Lilian Ajio
Darts: Eddy Baguma, Harriet Akot
Kickboxing: Patricia Apolot
Ludo: Rose Nsereko
Handball: Francis Ongom, Sarah Nanyazi
Swimming: Ambala Atuhaire, Kirabo Namutebi
Hockey: Colins Batusa, Doreen Mbabazi
Motocross: Stav Orland
USPA TOP AWARD – CAST OF WINNERS
2018: Joshua Cheptegei (Athletics)
2017: David Emong (Para-athletics)
2016: Denis Onyango (Football)
2015: Ronald Otile (Golf)
2014: Peace Proscovia (Netball)
2013: Stephen Kiprotich (Athletics)
2012: Stephen Kiprotich (Athletics)
2011: Susan Muwonge (Motorsport)
2010: Moses Kipsiro (Athletics)
2009: MTN Heathens (Rugby)
2008: Moses Kipsiro (Athletics)
2007: Moses Kipsiro (Athletics)
2006: Boniface Kiprop (Athletics)
2005: Dorcus Inzikuru (Athletics)