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Chengdu gold medalist continues his run to the future

Summer Games 26 February 2024

From running in the rain on the muddy streets of a remote village in Uganda, to standing atop the podium at the Chengdu FISU World University Games – it has been a journey of persistence, determination, and sacrifice for middle-distance runner Dismas Yeko.

The 19-year-old’s talent was only discovered in high school, having been noticed while participating in inter-school athletics events. Despite having never run competitively, he opted to harness his new-found prowess as best he could while pursuing his tertiary level education.

“After leaving high school, I did some training on my own before enrolling into Ndejje University in August 2019,” he told “This made me train even harder in order to earn a scholarship, since my parents were not really able to afford the fees for my studies.”

The forestry science and environment management student had to strike a balance between training and his classes, knowing that his future depended on it.

“I had to train in the morning at 6am until about 7.40am, then prepare for my classes before starting evening training at around 4pm. The worst was when it used to rain in the morning. But I knew I had to do continue these sacrifices for my future because it was the only option for me, to earn a scholarship to have my tuition paid for since I was from a poor family.”

Dismas’s focus, perseverance, and unwavering spirit paid off, as he was last year selected to represent his university and country at the FISU World University Games in Chengdu, China. Not only did he participate but he impressed, finishing the men’s 10,000m final in a time of 28:59.25 to claim his country’s only gold medal at the summer event.

“That was the highlight of my career so far,” he says. “I was really confident heading into the race as I knew I had prepared enough. Standing on the podium gave me immense joy, knowing I was representing my university and my country.”

Uganda has strong athletics record at the FISU Games – all their previous 14 medals at the Games since 1973 have been won in athletics.

Citing as his role-models Ugandan former FISU Cross Country champion and now 10,000m world record holder Joshua Cheptegei and Commonwealth Games 10,000m gold medalist Jacob Kiplimo, Dismas hopes that, like with Olympic medalist Cheptegei, his FISU competition success will provide a springboard for his track career.

“The Games gave me the necessary experience in a tough competition abroad, while encouraging me that I can achieve and do something big in international events,” he says.

“Now I have to just concentrate on my training so that I achieve my goals in athletics in the near future.”

Written by Fabio De Dominicis