How Many World Cups Were Held In Africa Justin Arop: Uganda’s Greatest Javelin Thrower and Field Athlete

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Justin Arop: Uganda’s Greatest Javelin Thrower and Field Athlete

Javelin throwing is highly technical and it is also taxing on the arms and shoulders. In a region where there is a dearth of internationally competitive field athletes, javelin thrower Justin Arop rose to the occasion and for many years represented Uganda at the All-Africa Games, the Commonwealth of Nations’ Games and the Olympic Games. In the process, he broke the African record. Arop’s national record still stands and he remains Uganda’s greatest individual field athlete.

Arop’s remarkable athletic talent was evident when he was a teenager. In 1976, at the East and Central African Championships held in Zanzibar, 18-year-old Arop won the gold medal with a distance of 68.05 m. Arop dethroned long-time champion John Mayaka of Kenya, who had also won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1974 held in Edinburgh with an African record throw of 77.56m. At the upcoming East and Central African Championships, Arop would again become javelin champion (71.04 m) in 1977 in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1981 (74.94 m) in Mombasa, Kenya, in 1982 (73.02 m) in Cairo in Egypt, in 1985 in Cairo, in 1989 (69.94m) in Arusha in Tanzania and in 1990 (66.50m) in Jinja in Uganda. In 1989, in the same championships, the strong and agile Arop won gold with his shot put of 13.15m. The championships ended in 1990; they were briefly revived in 1995 as the East African (Zone V) Championships, but had lost their spark and were held for only three more years — in 2001, 2003 and 2005.

At the 1978 All-Africa Games held in Algiers, Justin Arop won gold with a national record throw of 76.94 metres, superbly ahead of runner-up silver medalist Ali Memmi of Tunisia (71.28 m) and bronze medalist John Mayaka ( 70 .76 m) of Kenya. The next venue for the All-Africa Games was Nairobi, Kenya in 1987, almost 10 years after the venue in Algiers in 1978. Arop ably defended his continental title, winning gold with a throw of 73.42m. One meter behind was silver medalist Zakayo Malekwa from Tanzania, who was ahead of bronze winner George Odera (71.30 m) from Kenya.

Arop remains the only athlete ever to represent Uganda at three Olympic venues. Born on March 24, 1958 in the Acholi region of northern Uganda, Arop was 22 years old when he represented Uganda at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. In the qualifying round of the javelin, contested on 26 July 1980, Arop’s best throw was fantastic. His best distance was 82.68m—a new Ugandan record that has yet to be surpassed! It was also a new Africa record! Nevertheless, many of the javelin throwers were ahead of Arop – he was placed 8th and well behind the best qualifier Ferenec Paraqi of Hungary (88.76m). The requirement had been for the first twelve plus any additional competitors who would throw more than 80 meters to qualify for the final round. Arop was the only African finalist. Marius Corbett of the Republic of South Africa established the current African record of 88.75 meters in 1998.

The twelve Olympic finalists made their final throw on 27 July. With a best throw of 77.34m, including some fouls, Justin Arop’s place dropped to 12th or last among the finalists. Unfortunately, Arop’s final throw was 77.34m, more than 5 meters off his record-best throw in the qualifying rounds! The winners were gold medalist Dainis Kula (Soviet Union) with 91.20m, silver medalist Aleksandr Makarov (Soviet Union) with 89.64m, and Wolfgang Hanisch (East Germany) with a throw of 86.72m.

Among the many years Justin Arop won the javelin at the Uganda Athletic Championships were 1981 (75.90m), 1982 (68.30m), 1984 (64.17m), 1985 (65.22m), 1986 (74.10 m (61.287 m), 51.287 m. ), 1990 (64.48 m) and 1991 (66.76 m). Arop was also national shot put champion in 1982 (14.24m), 1985 (13.20m) and 1986 (12.82m).

At the 1984 Olympics, held in August in Los Angeles, the challenge was for the top twelve javelin throwers plus all those who achieved at least 83 meters to advance to the final round. On 4 August, Arop’s performance among the athletes in the Group A qualification round was a far cry from his Olympic performance in Moscow in 1980. This time, Arop’s best throw of 69.76 m was the worst among the 14 competitors in the group. Arop was eliminated from advancing to the finals. In the end, Arop’s distance of 69.76m placed him 27th overall, just ahead of last 28th and last placed Mike O’Rourke of New Zealand, whose outrageous pollution did not allow him to score at all. The other African competitor, Zakayo Malekwa of Tanzania, with whom Arop was competitively familiar, finished 19th overall.

On September 24, 1988, 30-year-old Arop was ready to throw the javelin in his third Olympic appearance. This time the benchmark was for the first twelve and tied, and all those who had thrown to a distance of 79 meters to advance to the final round. There were two groups in the qualification round, and Arop was in group B. Out of the 19 group B participants, Arop was placed 17th with a best throw of 69.10m. He therefore did not reach the final. In the end, Arop was placed 33rd overall out of the 38 competitors. Curiously, Zakayo Malekwa, again the only other African competitor, was placed 34th with his best throw of 67.56m. The winning Olympic medalists were Jan Zelezny of Czechoslovakia (85.90m, new Olympic record), Seppo Raty of Finland (81.62m) and Tapio Korjus of Finland (81.42m).

On 29 August 1987, at the 2nd IAAF World Athletics Championships held in Rome, out of the 37 competitors, Arop was eliminated in the qualification round after posting a best throw of 71.76 meters and finishing 14th. finalists were future Olympic medalist Seppo Raty of Finland (83.54 m), Viktor Yevsyukov of the Soviet Union (82.52 m) and future Olympic medalist Jan Zelezny of Czechoslovakia (82.20 m). And in Ulm, West Germany, at an athletics meet, Justin Arop threw the javelin to 75.52 meters on August 6, 1988.

On 3 January at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, held in Auckland, New Zealand, Arop’s best javelin throw was 70.74m. It was the best of the African competitors in the event, but it would only give him 8th place in the final. The medal winners were the Englishmen Steve Backley (86.02 m) and Mick Hill (83.32 m) and the New Zealander Gavin Lovegrove (81.66 m).

Justin Arop was only 36 years old when he died in 1994. The Arop Memorial Championships, in his honor, were first held in Gulu in northern Uganda at the Pece Stadium in July 2006, September 2007 and April 2009. In April 2010, he pleaded family Ugandan government to build a school or vocational institute in honor of Justin Arop.

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