Uganda’s Commonwealth Games team have received a heroes’ welcome after arriving back in the country last evening.
The return flight from the Gold Coast carried the extra weight of three gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze.
It was Uganda’s best performance since the 1974 Games in Christchurch, New Zealand where Uganda scooped nine medals but it will have long lasting implications.
Hundreds of fans especially from Uganda’s long distance fountain, Sebei region sounded their appreciation to the returning heroes.
Double gold medallist Joshua Cheptegei, who followed flag bearer Philip Wokorach, said he was happy to be back.
“I feel very happy returning home as a hero,” the 21-year-old said shortly after hugging his wife and having a tête-à-tête with the first lady.
His delight was echoed by netballer Rachael Nanyonga, who helped the She Cranes leave Australia with a fifth place finish that guaranteed a World Cup slot next year in Liverpool.
The team was received by the Police brass band as an honour for having the lion’s share among the medal winners.
Boxer Juma Miiro, who won bronze in the 49kg light flyweight boxing category was thrilled with the experience after finishing in the semi finals where he was beaten by India’s Amit Panghal.
He will be rewarded with Shs1m from boxing president Moses Muhangi.
“It’s really nice to be back, it’s been a busy period for every one of us on the team,” he said on arrival.
After beating Mercyline Chelangat for the first time this season, Stella Chesang, who won the other gold medal, was also among those arriving back in Uganda. Chesang settled for bronze.
There was plenty of optimism everywhere with Patrick Ogwel, who is the NCS assistant General Secretary in charge of administration and government funds, told Daily Monitor that the good times are just beginning.
“We made sure that everything moved on plan and I am happy that we managed to reap in such a short time,” he said.
Every athlete who travelled to the Gold Coast was rewarded with USD2000 (Shs7.3m) for the three-week stay in Australia.
The team was treated to a luncheon at Imperial Royale Hotel and will be hosted by President Yoweri Museveni at State House on Sunday.
Joshua Cheptegei – gold (5000m and 10,000m)
Stella Chesang – gold (10,000m)
Solomon Mutai – silver (marathon)
Mercyline Chelangat – bronze (10,000m)
Juma Miiro – bronze (boxing – light fly)