Last month (30 May), on the Greek island of Crete, at the Chania National Stadium, Uganda’s star female sprinter, Shida Leni, ran 52.62 sec in the 400 metres, finishing a creditable 2nd. She was 0.31 sec behind the winner, Eleni Artymata of Cyprus.
Shida’s race was part of the Continental Tour Bronze, Venizelia/Chania athletics meeting, and was the 4th race of her European tour. The star’s London-based manager, Jeff Freeman said: “I am very pleased with 2nd place in a good field. This will also have generated ranking bonus points in World Athletics’ World Rankings.”
Shida Leni has for a while now steadily grown her experience as an upcoming star athlete and has been under the management of the Kevin and Sue O’Connor coaching team for 8 years now undergoing intensive training.
Based on the results, this what Kevin and Sue O’Connor had to say about Shida’s performance in Greece: “This was an encouraging performance, which equalled the best time Shida has so far achieved in Europe. She needs to improve further to get near the Tokyo Olympics qualifying time of 51.35 sec, which is 0.12 sec faster than her 400 metres National Record of 51.47 sec. But the good news is that her times are getting faster in Europe.”
“She did some fantastic training sessions at Kampala’s Mandela National Stadium, and in weight-training at Silver Springs Hotel’s Espace Gym, before she flew to Europe on May 12, so we are confident she can improve on her performances.”
Shida has continued to improve, and we anticipate that she will only get better and faster as she continues her training and keeps taking part in various competitions across the globe. Aside from that, this is not Leni’s first attempt at the global stage.
Earlier in May, in Austria’s historic capital city of Vienna, Shida Leni easily won the Women’s 400m at the Midsummer Track Night. Her time was 53.01sec. It was the first race of her European tour.
“I did not expect a fast time in Vienna. Firstly, the conditions were difficult as it was very windy. Secondly, she would have been experiencing travel tiredness – the door to door journey was around 36 hours, and she did not arrive at her hotel until late on Thursday night”, said her coach at the time.
Shida Leni’s performance in Greece shows she has what it takes to compete on a global stage
Shida has consistently improved her times over the 400m events. Not only has she has competed in Austria, Italy, and Spain. She is aiming higher and hopes to improve on her track record with every race. “Consistently improving since the first race encourages me a lot,” said Leni early this week.
Her target is to beat the qualification standard of 51.35 seconds to book a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. But the deadline for qualification of June 29 is fast approaching and Leni must take each moment on the track in Europe seriously.
Over the past 7 years, Shida has made substantial progress, breaking the 400m National Record on 7 occasions, then in 2019 the 200m National Record, as well as winning the 400m Silver Medal at the World University Games in Italy, narrowly missing out on Gold. Until Leni broke them, both these National Records had stood for over a decade.
The race at the World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze circuit was her seventh overall and fourth in Europe over the lap this season. She first posted 53.01 seconds to easily win the one-lap race during the Midsummer Track Night Meeting at Vienna Athletics Center on May 15.
According to Monitor, the 26-year-old is bidding to become the first Ugandan to compete over the sprints at the Olympics in 13 years. Justine Bayiga is the last Ugandan to take that card, competing at the 400m during the Beijing 2008 Games in China. Uganda has one Olympic medal from the sprints; Davis Kamoga’s 400m bronze from the Atlanta 1996 Games.
The World Athletics Continental Tour is an annual series of elite track and field athletic competitions, recognised by World Athletics (formerly known as the IAAF). The Tour forms as the second tier of international one-day meetings after the Diamond League making it the top-tier after certain events were removed from the Diamond League from 2020.
Full results of the race
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.