By Edwin Muhumuza
The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has flagged off reigning world marathon champion Joshua Cheptegei to participate in the 60th Ostrava Golden Spike 3000 meter race in the Czech Republic.
Dubbed the ‘Silver back of the pearl of Africa’ , Cheptegei will attempt to break the world record in the event which is also one of his build up activities as he bids for the Tokyo, Japan 2020 Olympics in July 2021 and early August.
While seeing him off on Saturday, UTB Marketing Manager Claire Mugabi said Cheptegei was officially unveiled as a tourism ambassador in January and from the moment he was unveiled he has worked with them in various tourism promotion initiatives including hiking mountain Rwenzori.
‘He spearheaded the Rwenzori challenge where he led a group of people all the way to the peak of Margherita to promote the mountain Rwenzori. Even in February we saw him participate in the championships in Monaco France where he emerged winner of the 5000meter race.’Mugabi Noted.
Cheptegei topped the list of the nominees for Laureus sportsman of the year 2021 awards among the world’s top 5 elite sportsmen of the year to compete for the award with superstars such as Lebron James, Lewis Hamilton, Robert Lewandowski and Rafael Nadal.
“As the tourism board we are very happy that we are reaping the benefits of this partnership. He has contributed tremendously to putting the positive message about the tourism of our country, promoting the different products we have as Uganda but most importantly he has gone about promoting Uganda as the most beautiful and safest country in Africa on account of the president’s effort to keep the country safe from COVID-19.
On his part Cheptegei said that, just like a silver back, he was optimistic that he will rise strongly determined to take on the world and become the best, giving the world an impression that Uganda is a land of possibilities.
Uganda, from where the gold medalist hails and is called the ‘silver back’ is because it is home to 50 percent of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, the most preferred tourism destination for gorilla tracking.
A silver back is a male mountain gorilla that takes care of its family like a human being. It is strong, resilient and so protective.