Musagala of Uganda during men's 1500m Heats on day 5 at the Rio 2016 Olympics / Photo credit: Norman Katende

Uganda’s Ronald Musagala is the latest addition to a stellar line up of internationally-acclaimed athletes who will be competing at the 2018 Athletix Grand Prix Series when he appears in the 1500m on Thursday, 1 March at Ruimsig Stadium and 3000m a week later on Thursday, 8 March at Tuks in Tshwane.

Musagala will line up against fellow countryman and World Championship 10,000m silver medallist, Joshua Cheptegei, in the 1500m on Thursday, 1 March in an intriguing match-up as Musagala made the Olympic finals in the 1500m where he finished 11th.

With a best of 3:33.65 in the three and three quarter lap race, Musagala on paper, has the edge over Cheptegei who has only run the 1500m once, clocking 3:37.82. Musagala’s time is also the national record of Uganda.

With an 800m best of 1:45.87, Musagala will be hoping for a fast pace to counter the speed endurance of Cheptegei who has a substantially faster 5000m time than the 13:24.41 of Musagala (12:59.83). That said, Musagala rarely ventures beyond the 1500m, in fact he has run the 5000m only twice.

The 25-year-old is in fine form, having anchored his regional team to a win in the team relay at the Ugandan National Cross Country Championships.

“That was a great moment for me, especially as it was held in the region I call home,” says Musagala. “I felt really good and know that this means that come 1 March, I will be in great shape for the 1,500m.”

Musagala is excited at the prospect of facing his countryman. “Josh (Joshua Cheptegei) is very popular in Uganda and has done very well, but the 1,500m is my speciality distance and Josh will need to run on my terms. So I am really looking forward to the race.”

The 3,000m will be an interesting duel a week later as the duo will be entering Cheptegei territory. “My focus is the 1,500m. Josh is more of a 5,000/10,000m athlete, but can run fast over the 3,000m too.

He has run 7:34 before. I have only done two 5,000m races and never a 3,000m race. I have more leg speed than him so we should have a really good battle over what we could call middle ground.”

Musagala is too wily a campaigner to only watch one athlete. Having represented Uganda seven times already, Musagala has learnt not to focus too much on one athlete.

“South Africa has some really good middle distance athletes and if I end up watching only Josh, this could cost me dearly.”

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