Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) members voted long distance runner Joshua Cheptegei as their best performing sports personality at the Awards gala held Friday night at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala.
Cheptegei who won double gold in the 5000 and 1000 metres at last year’s CommonWealth Games in Australia beat Uganda Cranes Captain Dennis Onyango, Netball star Lillian Ajio and Rugby 7’s vice captain Phillip Wokorach to the top award on the night.
A jubilant Cheptegei could not hold back his joy as he picked up his award saying that being voted as the best personality will act as motivation to push him further.
“This is a big honour to be named the best of all sportsmen in the country. Personally, this award motivates me,” said Cheptegei.
It was quite a day for the long distance runner after earlier being named Male Athlete of the Year.
Tennis legend and coach John Oduke was awarded the Legendary Award for his work towards tennis. Oduke, a record 13 time Uganda Tennis open champion, boasts of a career spanning over 50 years.
“I am privileged to have been recognised with the legendary award. I thank USPA and Nile Special and all of its partners for recognising me,” Oduke said.
Phillip Wokorach who did not attend as his taking part in the Hong Kong Rugby 7’s was voted as the Male Rugby player of the year award and scooped the inaugural USPA fans choice award beating Cheptegei, Onyango and Ajio in an online poll vote by the fans.
Cranes captain Onyango was voted as the footballer of the year while Ajio picked up the Netball player of the year award.
Jimmy Enabu was also awarded as the best basketball player of the year for the fourth year running while Jamilla Nansikombi won the female basketball player of the year. Mansoor Bwanika and teammate Ritah Nimusiima were voted as the best male and female pool players for 2018.
Meanwhile 2018 national rally champions, Susan Muwonge and Edmond Kyeyune were voted the best rally crew with Stella Chesang taking home the female Athlete of the year.
Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) was named the most outstanding sports federation of the year, The netball national team She Cranes taking the Sports Team of the year as the Africa ParaOlympic badminton tournament at Lugogo won the Best Sports Event of the year.
USPA president, Patrick Kanyomozi asked sports journalists to adhere to the ethics and codes of journalism while cautioning parties that disrespect Journalists. Guest of honour and Minister for ICT Frank Tumwebaze promised to forward USPA’s success story to Cabinet before tasking journalists to champion professionalism in sport.
“It is a good for USPA to recognise the best outstanding sportsmen but the challenge is that sports needs to be taken seriously in society and be recognised as an independent profession. We used to put down boys playing sport while we were attending class and that culture needs to change and transform sports from leisure to professionalism,” Tumwebaze said during his speech.
Sportsmen, women, sports journalists, federation and associations leaders or representatives, current and previous USPA leaders, sponsors, partners, as well as the other guests attended the colourful event which was spiced up by performances from female artist Lydia Jasmine.