Richard Ocira and Pauline Achai Shine at The MTN Kampala Marathon Wheelchair Race

L-R Lorna Lamono (2nd place women), MTN's Somdev Sen, Pauline Achai (1st place women) and Florence Acen (3rd place women)

Kampala, Uganda:The long-awaited MTN Kampala Marathon kicked off this morning with the 10km wheelchair race, ahead of the other races scheduled for next Sunday, the 20th of November. The MTN Kampala Marathon has for many years led the way in promoting, endorsing, and showcasing the very best wheelchair race in the country since the inception of the marathon.

L-R Lorna Lamono (2nd place women), MTN’s Somdev Sen, Pauline Achai (1st place women) and Florence Acen (3rd place women)

Wheelchair racing is open to athletes with any qualifying type of disability, amputees, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and partially sighted (when combined with another disability). Like running, it can take place on a track or as a road race. (Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheelchair_racing)

Unlike the previous (2019) MTN Kampala Marathon that featured the wheelchair race on the same day as the other races, this year, a special date was set for the wheelchair race as was the norm in the earlier marathons, to give the wheelchair race the prominence and recognition that it deserves.

Despite the early morning showers that hit Kampala this morning, the wheelchair race attracted 20 participants who were flagged off by UAF and MTN Uganda officials at the Lugogo by-pass for a 10KM race around Kololo, a Kampala suburb and back through Jinja Road to finish at the Lugogo by-pass.

Paul Okello the organizing secretary of the Uganda Athletics Federation expressed his excitement over the return of the MTN Kampala Marathon following a two-year break and thanked the participants who turned up for the wheelchair race.

“I thank the participants who turned up today for the wheelchair race and I would like to remind all the people with disabilities to take interest in this race as disability is not inability. We are also working towards acquiring more race wheelchairs as they are costly and a major hindrance to the people who would like to participate in this race,” Okello said.

Somdev Sen, MTN Uganda Chief Marketing Officer said ; “We are happy to see that more and more people are embracing the wheelchair race. I hail all the women and men who took part in the wheelchair race of this year’s MTN Marathon whose proceeds shall go to improving newborn and maternal health services in the country,” Somdev said.

In first place was Richard Ocira, an electronic repair and maintenance expert based in Gulu city. He won Ugx.3 million.

“In 2019 I was in second place so this year, I am happy to have won this year, after waiting for 2 years. The weather (rain) was good for me and I just raced without minding who was behind me,” Opio said upon crossing the finish line, minutes ahead of the second winner.

In second place for the men’s category was the 2019 defending champion, Kevin Mubiru, a fourth-year computer science student at Makerere University. He urged people with disabilities to keep exercising for better mental and physical health. Mubiru won Ugx.1.5Million shillings.

In third place was Brian Mugabe, a nursery teacher at Mulago Beupa learning site who was participating in the MTN Kampala Marathon for the first time. He won Ugx.1 million.

On the women’s side, Achai Pauline, a retailer based in Gulu city claimed the first position for the 4th time in a row, earning herself a cash prize of Ugx.3 million.

“I thank MTN Uganda for involving us people with disabilities in the MTN Kampala Marathon. It makes us feel seen and acknowledged,” Achai said.

A light moment among some of the wheelchair racers of the 2022 MTN Kampala Marathon

In second place was Lorna Lamono who won 1.5 million while her colleague, Florence Acen won Ugx.1 million for her 3rd place position.

All 6 wheelchair race winners shall receive their prizes on Sunday 20th November along with the other winners in the upcoming races.

Proceeds from this year’s Marathon shall be used to upgrade maternal and newborn services in four selected health facilities across the country. The beneficiary health facilities include Kisenyi and Kawaala health facilities in the suburbs of Kampala plus those in Kachumbala (Teso sub-region) and Kabong (Karamoja sub-region)

The MTN Kampala Marathon has over the years raised over Ugx.4 billion and benefited several causes such as helping expectant mothers with maternity kit, resettling people displaced by war in northern Uganda, delivering clean water and improving sanitation in communities/schools, and most recently, improving maternal in health facilities.

The other races of the MTN Kampala Marathon, including the full marathon (42Km), half marathon (21Km), 10Km race and 5Km fun run will be held on Sunday 20th November starting at the Kololo independence grounds.

The MTN Marathon pledges to continue playing its role in connecting and uniting Ugandans to causes that make a difference in the lives of thousands (if not millions) across the country. The 2022 MTN Kampala Marathon is powered by Huawei, Stanbic Bank, Rwenzori, Vision Group, NBS Sport, the Kampala Capital City Authority-the host city and the Uganda Athletics Federation- the technical partners.

MTN Uganda is a leading telecoms company in Uganda with a primary objective of carrying on the business of a national operator of a telecommunications network pursuant to the National Telecommunications Operator (NTO) license granted by the Uganda Telecommunications Commission (UCC). MTN has a presence in all 134 districts of Uganda. Services are delivered through a network of over 120,000 Mobile Money agents, 200 service stores and 13 main distributors. At end of Quarter 1 2022, MTN Uganda had 16.3 million subscribers, 9.8 million MoMo users and 5.7million active data users.

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