Nakaayi eyes redemption with 800m title in her sights

Halimah Nakaayi finished fifth at the 2023 Diamond League finals| Photo Credit: Twitter/DSTV

ATHLETICS Nakaayi eyes redemption with 800m title in her sights

Shafic Kiyaga 22:43 - 26.08.2023

As the clock ticks down to the grand finale, Halimah Nakaayi's journey embodies the essence of sports: the fight, the fall, and the potential for an awe-inspiring comeback.

Ugandan middle-distance runner Halimah Nakaayi is setting her sights on reclaiming the 800m world title at the ongoing 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

Nakaayi’s athletics journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions, marked by her agonizing last-place finish in the 800m final at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Yet, Nakaayi, who captured the world's attention by winning the 800m title in Doha four years ago, remains an athlete reborn as she prepares to reclaim her crown in Budapest on Sunday.

“Of course, it is my dream to become a champion again,” she expressed, fueled by an unyielding spirit.

“I am really grateful that my body is responding well. So I hope to give it my best.”

Advancing to the final hasn't been a cakewalk; it has required grit, determination, and an evolved racing strategy.

Finishing third in her semi-final heat behind renowned runners Mary Moraa from Kenya and Athing Mu from the United States, Nakaayi clocked a time of 1:58.89.

While it was just enough to qualify her as a non-automatic entry, it underscores her resolve.

“I am now a mature runner,” Nakaayi stated emphatically, “I know what I want and how to get it.”

This comes after a year in which she struggled to maintain form past the 400m mark, a problem she seems to have now rectified.

Sunday’s 800m final will be no easy feat, as Nakaayi squares off against a strong field that includes Great Britain's duo of Jemma Reekie and Keely Hodgkinson.

However, as someone who has tasted both the bitterness of defeat and the sweetness of victory, Nakaayi brings to the race an indomitable spirit that could very well see her triumph.

As Uganda basks in the glory of Joshua Cheptegei’s gold in the Men's 10,000m, Nakaayi’s performance is eagerly anticipated.

With other strong contenders like Peruth Chemutai in the Women's 3000m Steeplechase final, Uganda has a chance to make this a landmark event in its athletics history.

The opening act on Sunday will be the Men’s marathon, featuring Uganda’s Stephen Kissa, Victor Kiplangat, and Andrew Rotich Kwemoi, further amplifying the nation’s medal aspirations.