Uganda dethrones Kenya as EA Games champions

 Stanley Mutinda in Arusha, Tanzania

Kenya’s dominance in East Africa Schools Games could be under threat after Uganda emerged overall winners of this year’s edition held here in Arusha, Tanzania.

Uganda reigned supreme in the annual regional inter-schools championship claiming 27 medals; 11 gold, 9 silver and 7 bronze dethroning Kenya who were eyeing a third successive title as the ten-day event came to a close on Saturday.

The immediate champions Kenya came a close second after bagging a total of 27; 10 gold, 11 silver and six bronze while last year hosts Rwanda collected 10 medals with two of them gold, two silver and six bronze.

In last year’s edition held in Musanze, Rwanda, Kenya shrugged off the initial rustiness to win the overall title after claiming 28 team medals; 10 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze while Uganda came a close second after bagging 25.

In Arusha, Uganda ruled in football, netball, volleyball boys’, basketball and hockey boys’ to reclaim their 2014 title which they won in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania while Kenya dominated in rugby 15s, rugby 7s, hockey girls’ , and volleyball girls’.

In football, it was a Uganda affair with St. Mary’s Kitende defeating last year’s champions Buddo SS 1-0 in the finals to bag a record extending 14th title while Jinja also from Uganda, saw off newcomers Dagoretti in the third place play-offs to claim a clean sweep in football boys.

It’s only St. Anthony’s Kitale in 2002 and Barding in 2016 who have wrestled the title from Ugandans and interestingly the two only won when Kenya were the hosts.

In girl’s contest, Kenya relinquished her title which was won by Kwale Girls in last year’s event in Rwanda after Itigo and Nyakach both fell short crashing out in the semi-finals with Kawempe reclaiming their title after beating fellow Ugandans Mukono 1-0 in the finals on Saturday.

In rugby, Kenya claimed two gold and an equal number of silver in both sevens and 15s. Upper Hill won their maiden sevens title while Kakamega reclaimed their 2016 title –  a seventh one.

Kenya ruled in athletics after winning 39 medals, 18 of which were gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze with Uganda coming a close second with 35 medals.

At the same time, Kwanthanze Girls underlined their status as the East African volleyball queens when they tore apart arch-rivals Cheptil 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-18) to clinch their fifth regional title.

Meanwhile, the Federation of East Africa Secondary School Sports Associations (FEASSSA) president Justus Mugisha hailed the competition as “a huge success” only blighted by the withdrawals of two member states.

Burundi and South Sudan cited financial constraints due to lack of government support for their withdrawals while Ethiopia who had announced they would participate in this year’s edition withdrew at the last hour for unknown reasons.

“It was a success and I thank all the federations — from the participating countries for making it a success and we are looking ahead to have another wonderful event next year,” he said as he officially closed the championship.

Kenya will play host of the 2020 edition to be held in Kakamega in August,  three years since hosting the annual championship in  Eldoret, in 2016.