Good 2 Mile Time For A 20 Year Old Male Abraham Kwadu Munabi: Uganda’s Greatest Triple Jumper

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Abraham Kwadu Munabi: Uganda’s Greatest Triple Jumper

During the late 1960s and early 1970s an excellent student at the prestigious rigorous Medical Faculty at the famous Makerere University in Kampala established himself as one of the leading African and Commonwealth of Nations triple jumpers. Abraham Kwadu Munabi, born on 19 December 1940, was like Uganda 1960 champion sprinter Amos Omolo an apparently late age entrant to significant sporting competition. Munabi was the biggest name and medal hope in Ugandan track and field at the time. The national record that Munabi established in the triple jump still stands four decades later.

But no, it was not because of his sporting achievements that the world mostly recognized Munabi. Dr. Munabi moved to the United States in the late 1970s for advanced studies, where he engaged in special experimentation and research in reproduction. In the space of more than thirty years, Munabi’s name appeared in a stream of research articles. Munabi is renowned as a fertility expert, a reproductive endocrinologist. A board certified gynecologist, Munabi founded and is director of the Reproductive Science Institute of Suburban Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Munabi jumped to a personal best of 16.11m and a national triple jump record in September 1969. Here Munabi won gold in the triple jump at the East and Central African regional Games. The annual Games were held in the capital Kampala in Munabi’s native Uganda. Munabi’s long jump victory of 16.11m far surpassed the competition. At the same tournament, Munabi won gold in the long jump with 7.24m. Munabi would again bag gold in the triple jump at those regional Games in 1972, held in the Tanzanian capital Dar-es-Salaam. The winning length was 15.40m.

The next most significant international sports meeting for Munabi would be the Games of the Commonwealth of Nations of 1970 that were held in Edinburgh in Scotland. On July 24, twenty-eight international competitors would interchangeably hop, skip and jump in the qualifying round for the final that would take place the next day. Munabi, with a jump of 15.51 meters, was placed ninth of the thirteen finalists. The top five finishers were Australia’s Mile McGrath (16.09m), Nigeria’s Samuel Igun (16.08m), India’s Mohinder Singh Gill (15.90m), Australia’s Phil May (15.87m), and England’s Tony Wadhams (15.80m). Despite his ninth place ranking, Abe felt that he would easily capture a medal for Uganda. The final saw Phil Gray (Australia), with a length of 16.72m, take the gold; Mike McGrath (16.41m) also from Australia, bagged the silver; and Mohinder Singh (India) was third after a jump of 15.90m. Abraham Munabi of Uganda was placed, not too disappointingly, fourth (15.73m).

Those 1970 Commonwealth Games saw Uganda emerge, with an impressive collection of medals, becoming the Commonwealth boxing champions. Boxing gold medals were won by Mohamed Muruli (lightweight), James Odwori (light flyweight) and Benson Masanda (heavyweight); and the silver medals were won by flyweight Leo Rwabwogo and lightweight Deogratias Musoke. In athletics, William Koskei of Uganda (silver medal in 400m hurdles) and Judith Ayaa (bronze medal in the 400m) were the prize winners. John Akii-Bua (400m hurdles), aged 20, was like Munabi, beaten into fourth place.

At the 1972 Olympics that were held in Munich, 31-year-old Munabi (out of the competing 6 male and 2 female athletes) was Uganda’s oldest participant. At 5’11 (180 cm), Munabi was a relatively light 154 pounds (70 kg). There were 36 internationals for the triple jump competition, which took place from the 3rd to the 4th of September. Munabi arrived with a rather mediocre best length of 15.82m, and was placed 22nd ranked overall. Munabi’s foul in the Third Round stopped his progress. For comfort, Munabi beat a third of the field. The Olympic medal winners were, respectively, Viktor Saneyev of the Soviet Union, Jorg Drehmel of the German Democratic Republic, and Nelson Prudencio of Brazil.

Munabi was determined to win gold at the next Pan-African Games that would be held in August of 1973. Munabi was beaten to second place by Mansour Mamadou Dia of Senegal. But of significance Munabi jumped three times to 16.26 meters, a national record that stands to this day. Gold medalist Mansour Dia jumped to 16.53 meters, while bronze medalist Moise Pomaney of Ghana reached 16.09 meters. Dia also won a bronze medal in the long jump at these Pan-African Games. Also, Mansour Dia not only represented Senegal at the previous three Olympics, he also achieved the personal best and national record at the previous 1972 Olympics (16.77m), a national record that would stand for over 3.5 decades. At the Olympics, Dia who is only a week younger than Munabi was 13th overall in 1964, 8th in 1968, and 6th in 1972.

The overall Ugandan performance at the Pan-African Games was excellent, with boxers and athletes winning an impressive number of medals that Uganda had never come close to winning in the African Games since the 1973 performance (8 gold, 6 silver, 6 bronze) . Uganda was sixth overall. In the next year, Munabi would have competed for Uganda at the Commonwealth Games which were held in Christchurch in New Zealand. One of his obstacles was the trial finals he had to attend in his Medicine program at Makerere University.

Munabi finished 6th in the triple jump at the Montreal pre-Olympic meet in 1976. Joshua Owusu (also the Commonwealth of Nations Games champion) of Ghana won the gold here. In the newspaper “Africa” ​​(1976: 142) Munabi, now aged 34, is described as having a slim hope of winning an Olympic medal for Africa, but as being an important inspiration for the future of field athletics in Uganda. Indeed, at that time, it was Munabi who was the main success of Uganda’s field athletics. At the same pre-Olympic meet, Ugandan boxer, Mustapha Wasajja, later to turn professional and become a top-ranked world fighter, won Uganda’s solitary gold. Unfortunately, Uganda, like many other countries, boycotted and withdrew from the Olympics, which will soon be held in Montreal.

The tradition of sports and academic excellence prevails in the Munabi family. Son Tunji Adrian Munabi was a student and all-athlete at prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto in California. Tunji was a leading scorer for the Stanford Cardinals, also a triple jump and long jump champion. But the son did not break the family records for triple jump and long jump, which the father established. Naikhoba another excellent student and athlete, Tunji’s sister, just joined Stanford and competes in the triple jump.

As for Uganda, recent accolades and hope in the triple jump competition come through Sarah Nambawa (athlete) who in the last two years has become triple jump African champion (Nairobi, August 2010), set a Ugandan record. (13.95m), and was placed fifth at the 2010 Commonwealth Games which were held in New Delhi. Earlier the 2010 IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup held in Split in Croatia in early September 2010, against impressive international competition Nambawa from Uganda finished 6th with her 13.78m jump. Also, earlier, while competing for Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, in June 2010, Nambawa’s jump of 13.66m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships which were held in Eugene in Oregon placed her as second overall.

There is enough room for Nambawa to deftly displace “Abe” as Uganda’s greatest triple jumper. Nambawa is certainly the most suitable athlete to revive our memories of Abraham Munabi’s sporting achievements.

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