By Job Bwire
Gold medallist Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai celebrates during the medal ceremony for the women’s 3000m steeplechase event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 4, 2021.PHOTO/ AFP
President Museveni Wednesday said Ugandan sports men and women who earned Uganda a gold medal at a continental level, commonwealth or Olympic games will be paid a monthly salary of Shs5 million.
According to the president, silver medalists in any of the three categories will each earn Shs3 million per month while bronze medalists will be paid Shs1 million.
“I made an order in 2013 that anybody who wins gold at a continental level, commonwealth or Olympics should be paid Shs5m per month all the time and Shs1 million for silver and bronze. It was not honored…I was told they are being paid quarterly. I didn’t say quarterly. I speak English very well. All their arrears will be paid. …what they should have been paid. And because I’m now a happy man. I will give each of these medalist a car. I will build for their parents a house each,” Mr Museveni said as he received Joshua Cheptegei (gold and silver medalist), Peruth Chemutai (gold medalist), Jacob Kiplimo (bronze), Halima Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo, among other Olympic athletes who returned from Tokyo, Japan yesterday.
The president also pledged a car for each of the medalists and a house for their parents.
“And because I’m now a happy man because of the medal I will give each of these medalist a car. I will build for their parents a house each,” he added.
Mr Museveni also chided critics who reportedly said Uganda earned the medals at the Olympics by a miracle. Advertisement
According to the president, some of the reasons Uganda performed well and got medals at the Tokyo Olympics and the other sporting events in the recent past was because of the peace and Universal Primary Education (UPE) ushered in by his government. However, Chemutai told the president at the event that she dropped out of senior one because she lacked fees to continue with secondary education.
This picture taken on August 11, 2021 shows the cars that were given to Uganda’s Olympic medalists by President Museveni at Kololo Ceremonial grounds. PHOTO/ PPU
But Mr Museveni attributed her failure to continue with secondary education to technocrats who reportedly failed to implement the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme ‘properly’.
“I read an article recently saying that it was a miracle for Uganda to win medals…because Kenya spends Shs450 billion on sports, while South Africa spends over 200 billion and that in Uganda we spend about 18 billion. This was not a miracle. The fact of the matter is that Uganda is uniquely endowed by both the natural resources and the human resource. The unfortunate thing is that some people don’t see this and they are trying to mess up some of the endowments like the environment,” he said.
According to the president, there are no longer conflicts in the Ministry of Education and Sports following the appointment of the First Lady, Janet Museveni as the Minister of Education and Sports.
“In the past, they used to have a lot of conflicts in that ministry. But I hear it’s now quiet. I think it’s because of the grandmothelyr approach she introduced there and the several meetings they hold. I always see her going for those meetings,” he said as he lauded the First Lady for her support to the Uganda Olympics team.
In his speech, Mr Cheptegei asked government to support his training center in Kapchorwa District.
“The Joshua Cheptegei high-altitude training center has been supporting young athletes. I have managed to construct about 60% of the center with my own funds and I believe that with your support, we can complete it,” he said before adding that he was mocked on social media when he failed to win gold for Uganda in the 2017 Cross country championships.
“On that day I was ready to win gold for my Uganda. However, the devil was still at my feet. I collapsed and people mocked me on social media. Thank you (Museveni) for the advice you gave me after that incident,” he said.
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei celebrates with the national flag after winning the men’s 5000m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 6, 2021.