Nakaayi strikes silver at Africa Games, sets sights on Olympics

Nakaayi strikes silver at Africa Games, sets sights on Olympics
Halimah Nakaayi

AFRICA GAME - ATHLETICS | Middle distance queen Halimah Nakaayi has the Paris Olympics podiums in five months well within a shot after the 2019 world champion in Doha soared through the women's 800m final to take home silver at the 13th All-African Games in Accra, Ghana.

Nakaayi breathed home in one minute, 58.59 seconds and that sub-two minutes in an international event under the heatwaves will have given her hope that she is well within her world championship mark of 1:58.04 seconds.

"I thank the Almighty God for helping me win the silver medal," Nakaayi said with humility.

She is an athlete who never takes anything for granted and has always accepted her results with grace and that is partly what keeps pushing her spikes in the hunt for that elusive Olympic medal.

Despite initially setting her sights on gold, she acknowledged the invaluable lessons learned from such competitions, recognising areas in which she could continue to grow and improve.

Nakaayi has not been so close to her Doha World Championships time at a championship, with the 1:59.18 seconds she ran at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, while finishing eighth her closest.

In-between, she was mainly running two minutes, including at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan.

With her gaze now fixed on the Olympics, taking her newly-pumped up lungs to Paris will put her back in the medal brackets provided she can get the best tactics for the enduring two-lap race.

Nakaayi's teammate, Susan Aneno, also showcased her talent, finishing sixth in the 800m event with a commendable time of 2:04.79.

Nakaayi's achievement further solidified Uganda's formidable presence in athletics, continuing a tradition of success that has seen the team claim medals at every edition of the African Games, save for 2015.

Ethiopia's Duguma Tsige Gemiecu won gold in th a time of 1:57:73, while Kenya's Vivian Chebet Kiprotich finished third, earning the bronze medal.

As the spotlight now shifts to the 2024 Olympics, Nakaayi remains determined to push her limits and strive for excellence, embodying the spirit of perseverance and dedication that defines Uganda's athletic prowess on the world stage.

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