Rob Walker is sports journalist and commentator famously known for his commentary and praise of the country during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where Uganda bagged four medals (two Gold medals won by Peruth Chemutai and Joshua Cheptegei in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m respectively)
The most memorable moment for him though was during the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Uganda, which is actually the last time he travelled to Uganda, when Cheptegei stormed to the front trying to beat the indefatigable Geoffrey Kamworor fired up by the noise of the home fans but collapsed in the closing distance.
“And what an adulterated joy this win will trigger back home in Uganda. One of the friendliest, most beautiful countries you could ever wish to visit,” beamed a powerful voice behind the microphone during the medal presentation of the female steeplechase medalists at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
That August 4, 2021 afternoon medal will go down in history as one of the most surprising performances for Uganda at the Olympic Games as Peruth Chemutai became the first Ugandan woman to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport breaking the national record with a time of 9:01.45.
The unlikely voice was of British TV presenter, reporter, commentator and MC Rob Walker, whose adoration for Uganda is undoubted.
When he started his 11-day official visit to promote sports tourism in Uganda on the invitation of the Uganda Tourism Board, Walker was excited.
Walker, who has a TV career spanning more than 20 years that include commentating at seven summer and Winter Olympic Games and five summer and Winter Paralympic Games, has had memorable moments with the Ugandan fans.
Although he is renowned for athletics among Ugandan audiences, he works on triathlon, snooker, darts, rugby and boxing.
As Uganda attempts to build a strong sports tourism brand taking advantage of World Champion Joshua Cheptegei and World Half Marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo, Walker visited Uganda to awaken the giant.
Walker, a humorous and upbeat presenter, who always strikes a chord with both crowds and TV audiences, fell in love with Uganda’s Nile Special beer during his previous visits and has been keenly following Uganda’s athletics modest beginnings.
Citing a British saying, “mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” he said something great is happening in Uganda but it takes time. He said Uganda is at a time of joining the great rivalry between Kenya and Ethiopia.
During a brief but powerful speech at the Uganda Media Centre, Walker said his first interaction with African distance runners was in 2003 but made his first trip to Uganda in 2005.
He said that Boniface Kiprop, attracted him to Uganda explaining that he is a very good ambassador. He said Moses Kipsiro, who followed later, was a great athlete.
“Kipsiro was able to win medals for the country. Really, who can forget his tremendous double at the Commonwealth Games, a double that was replicated by Joshua and Jacob in spectacular fashion last summer!” Walker said.
The most memorable moment for him though was during the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Uganda, which is actually the best time he travelled to Uganda, when Cheptegei stormed to the front trying to beat the indefatigable Geoffrey Kamworor fired up by the noise of the home fans but collapsed in the closing distance.
“He learned valuable lessons then and went to London for the World Championships later that summer and won silver behind Mo Farah and that is how his great journey began,” Walker said.
A former county champion at cross country and 1,500m, in 2005 Walker is one of the World Athletics’ lead international TV commentators on every Athletics world championship since 2007. In 2018 he was asked to become an Ambassador for Disability Snooker but he has a passion for Africa and is a believer in opportunity for all.
Lilly Ajarova, the chief executive officer Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) said that bringing Walker to Uganda was aimed at his appreciation of the country’s beauty.
“Sports and tourism are complimentary. There are some tourism activities that are actually sports such as hiking, climbing, walking, horse riding, and cycling, among others. But having Walker come here is a testament of how we want to position Uganda. We want to position Uganda as a destination that can host sports events. We have done that before and we want to enhance it to encourage more people to come to Uganda for these events. In turn they can visit the rest of the beauty Uganda has to offer,” Ajarova said,”.
Walker would tour the source of the River Nile, the mighty Murchison Falls and to Bwindi for the Mountain Gorillas tracking.
The then Sports minister Peter Ogwang asked the organizers to allow Walker tour the high Altitude Training Centre in Kapchorwa, where Uganda’s champions are made. Walker would hold a masterclass with sports journalists at Mestil Hotel and later a symposium with students at Makerere University Business School (Mubs).
Rob Walker again visited Uganda in 2023 also on invitation of Uganda Tourism Board, during which also he toured several tour destinations across the country.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in February 2023 received sports commentator Rob Walker. In his speech, he said that the country’s unique heritage is the strongest contribution to humanity as he receives the sports commentator.
“Our people are very welcoming, hospitable and always willing to learn,” he said. He made the comments as he welcomed the British sports commentator, Mr. Rob Walker at State House, Entebbe.
The President said that Uganda as a country is gifted in many ways; her culture, food, the languages and the beautiful sceneries.
On his part, Rob Walker commended Uganda’s hospitality saying that Ugandans are very welcoming and very accommodative.
Contact Kitara Foundation for Regional Tourism at +256392156562