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Wildlife plus athlete equals sports tourism

When wildlife plus athletes equals tourism benefits

Sports tourism can be found in some seemingly unlikely places. From chasing poachers and tracking wildlife as well as speeding vehicles in Uganda’s National Parks and wildlife nooks, along with preserving tourism in the process, Park Ranger Halima Nakayi is also dedicated to training at UWA’s training grounds in Kampala and in Mbale town located on the fringes of Mt. Elgon National Park in Eastern Uganda.

Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) sports department’s hard work paid off when their own ranger/athlete Nakayi bagged a Gold medal and a US$60,000 cash prize in the women’s 800 meter final at the 2019 IAAF World Championships ongoing at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha. She posted at 1:58.04 on the evening of September 29, 2019 breaking the national record.

Nakayi also made history as Uganda’s first middle distance medalist at track and field’s biggest event. She also becomes the second woman after Dorcus Inzikuru to emerge as champion at the biennial event.

The duo from the USA – Raeyn Rogers and Ajee Wilson – finished second and third, respectively. Winnie Nanyondo, her compatriot, came in fourth place with a time of 1:59.18.

“God is good. Winning a women’s gold medal in this race is very good news for us. We still have more medals to come,” said Dominic Otuchet, President of the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) . This is what makes sports tourism great.

When pressed for comment by eTN ,UWA spokesperson Gessa Simplicious said: “She is one of the very progressive runners over time, putting time and commitment in her trainings and improving personal records. It was a matter of when, not if, for her to emerge among the best. She is young and very much within range. So it’s expected that even more medals will come forth.”

Uganda’s Social media was abuzz with congratulatory messages coming from President Y.K Museveni, Uganda Olympic Committee President  William Blick, and her employers at  the Uganda Wildlife Authority who tweeted: “We don’t just nurture athletes, we nurture champions.”

Halima 25, competed in the women’s 800 meter and was Uganda’s flag bearer during the closing ceremony at the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil .

Other medal hopefuls from Uganda are World Cross Country Champion  2019, Joshua Cheptegei  and  silver medalist at the same event, Jacob Kiplimo.

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Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda